The British citizen’s assets were frozen by the UK Foreign Office on Tuesday as the government announced a series of new sanctions against individuals, companies and others supporting the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Graham Phillips, 43, a pro-Kremlin blogger born in Nottingham, England, moved to Ukraine over a decade ago and has spent the past few years recording and promoting videos from the country, amassing hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers. an account praising the Russian invasion. For some time he worked as a freelancer in Russian state television company RT, which many Western governments accuse of being a tool of the Kremlin and spreading disinformation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in announcing the freeze on Mr. Philip’s assets, described him as “a video blogger who 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.”
mr. Phillips said in an email that he was not warned in advance of the decision and questioned the legality of the measures.
“Please can someone explain to me how a Brit can be put on the UK sanctions list without any possibility of defending himself or any real charges against him just because the UK government doesn’t like his job?” mr. Philips wrote.
The move to punish Mr. Phillips came as the UK Foreign Office announced on Tuesday a slew of new sanctions targeting a number of people for supporting Mr Trump. the Putin regime, including Russian-appointed officials in the eastern part of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
The extended list also includes Russia’s justice minister and deputy justice minister, two oligarch nephews, and some Syrian citizens who the Foreign Ministry claims are “undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity” by recruiting mercenaries in Syria.
The UK has imposed sanctions on more than 1,000 people and 100 businesses since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
mr. Phillips, who moved to Ukraine in 2010, worked for a time as an English teacher and has written extensively about his experiences in the country, including detailing his exploits in brothels and writing about sex tourism in messages that were subsequently deleted.
When the Maidan protest movement began in 2013 over the future direction of Ukraine, he began documenting what was going on and, despite his inexperience, rushed to make videos and post reports of the conflict on social media, garnering a large following.
In 2014 he became a freelancer for RT. He praises the Russian annexation of Crimea and regularly speaks out in support of pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, creating his videos as a counterpoint to the Western narrative.
As a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, Philips has been documenting the war from the Russian side. This spring, Mr. Phillips interviewed and released a video of Aiden Eslin, a British man who joined the Ukrainian military in Mariupol and was later captured by Russian forces.
Speaking in Parliament after the video was released, Robert Jenrick, an MP representing Mr Aslin’s Electorate, said the interview was a “blatant violation” of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the broadcast of interrogations of prisoners of war.
mr. Jenrick also said that Mr. Philips “was under threat of prosecution for war crimes”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson later said he “shared the view of those who broadcast propaganda messages”. The clip was later removed.