Nothing restores public confidence in our government’s efforts to support the people of Ukraine following its invasion by Russia like a heavily criticised visa system and a social media mishap when announcing Foreign Office sanctions.
The latter happened on Friday, when the department announced it was freezing the assets of seven Russian oligarchs with a collective net worth of £15 billion in response to their country’s continued attacks on Ukraine.
The individuals have had their assets frozen, are banned from travelling to the UK and no individual or company in the UK can do business with them.
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, said: “There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine. Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people.
“We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: “[These] sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.”
However, in announcing the sanctions on Twitter, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office may well have taken the edge off the otherwise “ruthless” measures – because they used a picture of the wrong man.
While Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller are the more high-profile names on the sanctions list - and perhaps easier to identify in pictures - it was with Dmitri Lebedev where the FCDO slipped up.
Rather than sharing a snap of the chairman of Bank Rossiya’s board of directors, the department decided to post a picture of Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president.
Easy mistake to make when you’re Russian about trying to announce punitive measures on social media, I suppose.
After journalist Jonathan Rugman pointed out the blunder on Twitter, the tweet was deleted and reposted, while members of the public mercilessly mocked the government department:
\u201cThey all look the same to me, I can\u2019t tell the difference\u201d
I think Truss is being trolled by her own civil servants.
— Sir Robert Wilson (@Sir Robert Wilson)
World beating shambles
— Grand Duke Phil of Wessex \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Grand Duke Phil of Wessex \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6)
The @FCDOGovUK used a picture of former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev when announcing on Twitter that they were sanctioning an oligarch called Dmitri Lebvedev. Doesn't exactly fill you with confidence. I hope Priti Patel doesn't bully the staff member responsible.