The British ambassador to Moscow, Deborah Bronnert, has been summoned to the Russian foreign ministry to be warned over new UK sanctions imposed on Russian media outlets, in a move seen as likely to presage reprisals on British press operations in Russia.
In a statement late on Friday, the ministry said Russia would continue to react “harshly and decisively” to all sanctions imposed by London.
The UK earlier this week announced sanctions against the state-owned television station Channel One, accusing it of “spreading disinformation in Russia, justifying Putin’s illegal invasion as a ‘special military operation’”.
Britain also imposed sanctions on a group of Russian journalists embedded with the Russian army in Ukraine, including Evgeny Poddubny, a war correspondent for the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, Alexander Kots, a war correspondent for the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, and Dmitry Steshin, a special correspondent for the same outlet.
The UK also acted against the websites of RT and Sputnik, claiming: “For too long RT and Sputnik have churned out dangerous nonsense dressed up as serious news to justify Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”
An Ofcom ban already existed on RT’s UK broadcasting licence after it was the subject of repeated complaints for breaching the terms of its licence .
The Russian foreign ministry has been taking a harder line with diplomats from liberal democracies in the past weeks, partly in response to the expulsion of a large number of Russian diplomats from Europe.
The UK has been one of the few western diplomacies not to expel Russian diplomats in the past two months, but it has been at the forefront of countries imposing sanctions on oligarchs.