Russia’s richest businessmen, including owner of premiership side, Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovic are in trouble after it emerged that President Vladimir Putin’s policies in Ukraine will lead to crippling sanctions and it will have negative effects on their business interests.
Reports have it that if Putin doesn’t move to end the war in Ukraine in the wake of last week’s downing of a Malaysia Air jet in rebel-held territory, he risks becoming an international outcast like Belarus’s Aleksandr Lukashenko, whom the U.S. famously labeled Europe’s last dictator, one Russian billionaire said on condition of anonymity to Boston Globe.
‘‘The economic and business elite is just in horror,’’ said Igor Bunin, who heads the Center for Political Technology in Moscow. Nobody will speak out because of the implicit threat of retribution, Bunin said by phone on Sunday. ‘‘Any sign of rebellion and they’ll be brought to their knees.’’
The downing of the Malaysian airliner, which killed 298 people, led to renewed threats of deeper penalties by the U.S. and the European Union, who’ve already sanctioned Russian individuals and companies deemed complicit in fueling the pro- Russian insurgency in Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday the available evidence suggests Russia provided the missile used by the rebels to down the airliner. U.K. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was cited by The Mail on Sunday of accusing Putin of ‘‘sponsored terrorism.’’
While the EU has so far imposed less punitive measures against Russia than the U.S. because of opposition from countries such as Italy and Austria, the U.K. and the Netherlands are leading the push for bolder action at a meeting of foreign ministers tomorrow. Most of the victims aboard the plane, 193, were Dutch; 10 were British.
The U.S. has already imposed penalties on state-run companies and members of Putin’s inner circle, including billionaires Gennady Timchenko and Arkady Rotenberg.
The latest sanctions, announced a day before the Malaysia Air attack, barred OAO Novatek, a gas producer partly owned by Timchenko, from using U.S. debt markets for new financing with maturities longer than 90 days. Novatek’s London shares fell 8 percent over two days, cutting its market value by almost $3 billion.
‘‘Russia risks becoming a pariah state if it does not behave properly,’’ U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Sky News on Sunday. ‘‘We now need to use the sense of outrage that is clear to get a further round of sanctions-tightening against Russia.’’
Additional U.S. measures may be imposed in the next few weeks, with industry-wide sanctions probable in September if investigators determine the rebels carried out the attack, with Europe taking less wide-ranging steps because it has closer business ties with Russia, Eurasia Group, a research and advisory firm based in New York, said in a research note.