Gold exports were worth £12.6 billion to Russia in 2021 and its importance has increased since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as oligarchs have rushed to buy bullion to avoid the impact of sanctions, Downing Street said.
Officials believe that because London is a major gold-trading hub, UK sanctions will have a huge impact on Mr Putin’s ability to raise funds to finance his war effort.
The measures we have announced today will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine
Boris Johnson confirmed the move as he arrived at the G7 summit in Bavaria, Germany.
He said: “The measures we have announced today will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine.
“Putin is squandering his dwindling resources on this pointless and barbaric war. He is bankrolling his ego at the expense of both the Ukrainian and Russian people.
“We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding. The UK and our allies are doing just that.”
Legislation to implement the ban will be introduced in Parliament in the coming weeks.
The prohibition will apply to newly mined or refined gold.
It does not impact Russian-origin gold previously exported from Russia and there are no plans to extend restrictions to gold purchased legitimately before the import ban was put in place.
The move, on top of existing sanctions, will mean restrictions will apply to Russian exports worth around £13.5 billion from a range of industries.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Given London’s role at the heart of the global gold trade, this shows the UK will take tough steps to stop the Russian war machine.”