Video: In Hock to the Oligarchs?

A recording of our event at the Frontline Club is now available

Watch the debate here  

While Vladimir Putin was busy annexing Crimea, a civil servant was photographed arriving in Downing Street with a document that said Britain should “not support, for now, trade sanctions” as response to the Crimea crisis and that it would be a mistake to “close London’s financial centre to Russians”.

David Cameron has subsequently agreed to EU sanctions and travel bans have been imposed on Russian officials. But would our response have been stronger were it not for the importance of Russian money to London?

Russians are granted more investor visas than any other nationality; Russians buy London property, send their children to British schools and hire British lawyers and bankers. For some, Britain has become a shamelessly mercenary country, putting financial gain before morality.

Others argue that the government is right to put growth first; its obligations are to the British people, who are interested in their livelihoods, not the legality of a referendum in Crimea. Are sanctions even the best approach? With them comes the risk of isolating Putin, making a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis less likely.

Standpoint magazine brings together a distinguished panel to debate Britain’s response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Chaired by Daniel Johnson, the founding editor of Standpoint. He covered the end of the Cold War for The Daily Telegraph and is the author of White King and Red Queen: How the Cold War was Fought on a Chess Board.

The panel:

Ben Judah has reported for Standpoint from Russia and Ukraine. He is the author of Fragile Empire: How Russian Fell In And Out Of Love With Vladimir Putin.

Tony Brenton worked for 30 years for the Foreign Office and was British Ambassador in Russia from 2004 to 2008. In 2007 he was awarded a KCMG. He is now extraordinary fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.

Roger Boyes is diplomatic editor at The Times. Previously he has worked as a foreign correspondent in Eastern Europe, Berlin and Rome.

Peter Hitchens is a journalist, broadcaster and author. He is a columnist on the Mail on Sunday and has worked as a foreign correspondent in Moscow and Washington.

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