UK ministers have announced plans to pile further pressure on Vladimir Putin by banning exports of luxury goods to Russia as the health secretary accused Moscow of war crimes amid repeated attacks on Ukrainian hospitals.
The announcement of the plans, details of which Downing Street said would be set out in the coming days, came as the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and other G7 leaders committed to increasing pressure on the Russian president.
The health secretary, Sajid Javid, heavily criticized Russia for its attacks on health facilities and accused its forces of war crimes. He said Russia must stop its aggression, describing the invasion of Ukraine as “a war started by Russia, completely unprovoked, completely unjustified”.
He added: “What we are seeing from Russia, especially the attacks on health facilities, where the WHO have reported over 25 health facilities, including hospitals, have been targeted or hit for whatever reason, [is] completely unacceptable reasons by Russian forces.
“This is a war crime, and Russia will pay for the crimes that it is carrying out in Ukraine today.”
The UK has imposed sanctions on nearly 400 Russian parliamentarians as ministers attempt to “tighten the screw” on Moscow.
The G7 agreed to take steps to deny Russia its “most favored nation” status on key products, which No 10 said would significantly cut Russian businesses’ ability to export.
The foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said the UK stood “united with our G7 partners” and that it would “continue strengthening our response” to put pressure on Russia.
But the government came under criticism from Labor, which said the ban should already have been implemented.
“Labor has been calling for weeks now for a ban on luxury goods being sent to Russia, so it is welcome that the UK government have finally listened – but it should not have taken this long,” said Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow international trade secretary.
“We cannot allow Putin, and his cronies in Moscow, to live a Mayfair lifestyle while they kill innocent people in their illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, also condemned Johnson’s government, accusing them of making Ukrainian refugees unwelcome in the UK and pretending to lead the world on the issue by failing to live up to its “grand statements”.
“I would hope that the Ukrainian men and women who have lived through horror and crossed Europe to reach their families on UK territory will be better treated,” he said on Friday at the end of an EU summit in Versailles.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, accused the west of causing “war through weakness”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Conservative MP described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “the biggest failure of western foreign and security policy in our lifetimes”.
“It happened because we forgot the most fundamental lesson of the cold war: the power of deterrence,” he wrote, adding: “Instead of peace through strength we caused war through weakness.”
He also called on the UK to increase its spending on defence, aid and “soft power” to at least 4% of GDP over the next 10 years.