The UK will impose direct sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov imminently, Boris Johnson has told NATO leaders.
At a virtual meeting with world leaders, the prime minister said his government will personally sanction the Russian president and Mr Lavrov over their “revanchist mission” to overturn the post-Cold War order.
He also said that “immediate action” must be taken to ban Russia from the Swift payment platform to “inflict maximum pain” on President Putin.
Live updates as Putin authorises military operation
Earlier, the PM was believed to be considering sanctioning President Putin’s “inner circle” after Ukraine demanded tougher measures and support fending off the Russian invasion.
The EU has already sanctioned President Putin and his foreign minister after similarly being accused by Ukraine’s president of failing to react hard and fast enough against Russian aggression.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had called on both the UK and EU to strengthen their package of measures hitting oligarchs supporting the Putin regime and freezing Russian bank assets.
It came after Kyiv was hit by air strikes and fighting got closer to the capital.
PM: Invasion ‘Euro-Atlantic crisis with global consequences’
Mr Johnson warned fellow NATO members that “the Russian president’s ambitions might not stop there and that this was a Euro-Atlantic crisis with global consequences”, a Number 10 spokesperson said.
Less than an hour earlier, Western officials warned that Russia could use thermobaric weapons against Ukrainian forces if they continue to hold up their advance.
At present, Ukrainian soldiers are believed to be holding up the Russian advance on Kyiv – with heavy armour still 50km away from the capital.
“My fear would be that if they don’t meet their timescale and objectives they would be indiscriminate in their use of violence,” one Western official said.
Read more: Four ways the Russian invasion of Ukraine could end
In the early hours of this morning, the prime minister held a call with Mr Zelenskyy as invading forces closed in on Kyiv after a barrage of air strikes on cities and military bases.
Ukraine’s president updated Mr Johnson on the “terrible developments” in Kyiv and said he “needs the support of partners more than ever” as he demanded “effective counteraction” and for sanctions to be strengthened.
The prime minister assured Mr Zelenskyy that “the world is united in its horror at what Putin is doing” and praised the “bravery and heroism of the Ukrainian people”, Downing Street said.
Wallace: More than 450 Russian troops killed
Earlier this morning, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News that more than 450 Russian troops had been killed, as a fierce resistance meant Moscow “failed” on the main objective on the first day of fighting.
Mr Wallace said it was the UK government’s view that President Putin intends “to invade the whole of Ukraine”.
Read more: Putin urges Ukrainian military to overthrow country’s leaders
But he said Russia was “behind its hoped-for timetable” in the military action against its neighbour.
“Our assessment, as of this morning, is that Russia has not taken any of its major objectives,” the defence secretary said.
“In fact it’s behind its hoped-for timetable. They’ve lost over 450 personnel.
Later, in an intelligence update posted to its Twitter account on Friday afternoon, the Ministry of Defence said that fighting “continues in key locations”.
“Russia has made limited progress so far today and Ukraine retains control of key cities,” the MoD said.
PM hits Russia with ‘largest set of sanctions every imposed’ by the UK
Mr Johnson on Thursday hit Russia with what he described as the “largest set of sanctions ever imposed anywhere by the UK government”, after the attack on Ukraine.
Making a statement in the Commons, Mr Johnson added that there are also plans to introduce legislation that would limit the amount of deposits Russian nationals will be able to hold in UK bank accounts.
Read more: Boris Johnson unleashes UK’s ‘largest set of sanctions ever’ on Russia
The prime minister spoke with leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force today – made up of the UK, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.
Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign minister Mr Lavrov said Moscow would be ready to hold talks with Kyiv but only once Ukraine’s military had laid down its arms.
He also said the Kremlin did not want “neo-Nazis” to govern Ukraine.
Defence minister pushes back at calls for Ukraine no-fly zone
Appearing in the House of Commons on Friday, armed forces minister James Heappey pushed back at calls from MPs for a no-fly zone to be enforced over Ukraine.
He warned that it could trigger a wider conflict between NATO countries and Russia under the alliance’s Article 5 mutual defence clause.
Mr Heappey reassured MPs the government wanted to see “as much British kit in hands of Ukrainians as we can manage”.
Earlier today, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had called for the government to “go even further” than the latest package of sanctions.
“In the past we have not been strong enough in response to Putin,” he told Sky News.
Elsewhere, Ireland’s deputy premier Leo Varadkar branded Vladimir Putin the “Hitler of the 21st century”.