The US has labelled the European Union’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “historic”, saying the relationship with the bloc is “vital” – but not mentioning a word about Brexit Britain.
American government official and diplomat Antony Blinken’s praise of the EU comes after a speedy bloc-wide response saw Europe imposing a wave of sanctions on Russia – just as the UK government was accused of opening a loophole by allowing Russian state-owned VTB Bank individuals and entities to “wind down” assets within 30 days.
The EU has also announced it is welcoming Ukrainian refugees into member countries for three years without requiring them to apply for asylum – whilst the UK Home Office has insisted Ukrainian refugees must not attempt to come to Britain without a “valid visa”.
Speaking to journalists, Blinken said: “Virtually everything that we’re trying to do around the world is affecting the lives of our citizens, we’re more effective when we’re doing it together. And we’ve spent the last year actually making good on that commitment.
“And I think it’s very, very instructive that now at a time of crisis, the investment that both of us have made in this relationship is proving how important and vital it is.”
He added: “What the European Union has done over the space of a couple of weeks is quite simply remarkable. The speed with which it acted, the actions that it took both with regards to the sanctions and also support for Ukraine, are, I think it’s not an exaggeration to say, historic.
“And it only further validates for us the importance of this partnership. We are faced together with what is president Putin’s war of choice, unprovoked.”
Blinken’s appreciation towards the EU did not go unnoticed – thousands have reacted to the clip.
Former BBC journalist Rikki Singh said: “Blinken praising the efforts of the EU and not a word about the “world leading” UK government. Quelle surprise!”
One Twitter user said: “What the United Kingdom hasn’t done, over the space of a couple of weeks, is quite simply remarkable,” whilst another commented: “The UK used to be a leading part of that. Disgraceful that we’re not there. And EU showing how to do asset seizure. Still I guess NOW we know what sovereignty meant, being able to be soft on Russia”.
No UK sanctions for ‘weeks and months’
This week, it emerged that the UK will not be able to sanction Roman Abramovich and other Russian oligarchs for “weeks and months” – because the government has been unable to build a case against them.
Meanwhile oligarchs are already moving their money out of the country. Nigel Kushner, chief executive of W Legal, who advises wealthy Russians on sanctions, said he has already been contacted by individuals looking to move their assets.