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UK sanctions British blogger for spreading pro-Russian propaganda

Graham Phillips, a British journalist/blogger from Nottingham, has been reprimanded for his pro-Putin coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, becoming the first British national to be sanctioned by the British government.

Philips was recently charged with war crimes after interviewing British captive Aiden Aslin for Russian state television and describing him as a “mercenary”. During the siege of Mariupol, Russian forces abducted Aslin, who has now been sentenced to death by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

This week, British authorities froze Mr Phillip’s assets, accusing his media output of intending to “destabilize Ukraine”.

The pro-Kremlin blogger was previously detained by Ukrainian authorities in 2014 while working for Russia Today, but was later released.

Phillips and Aslin’s interview caused an uproar, with the Department of Defense accusing him of “filming facilities that are not authorized to be filmed”. The video was “a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions”, according to Newark MP Robert Jenrick, who added that Mr Phillips risked “being prosecuted for war crimes”.

Phillips also received harsh criticism from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called the interview a “propaganda message”. YouTube removed the controversial video and no longer paid him for the ads.

Phillips is now subject to the latest round of sanctions, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

In a statement outlining the reasons for the action, the FCDO said: “Graham Phillips is a video blogger who has created and published media content that supports and promotes actions and policies that destabilize Ukraine and undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine.”

“Today’s sanctions build on the UK’s tough sanctions program against Russia, which includes designations of over 1,100 individuals and over 100 entities,” they added.

“Additional powers have also come into force recently, including banning new British investment in Russia, banning Russian gold from the UK’s largest global bullion market and expanding the criteria for determining who can be punished.”