Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced the move, which targets Boris Johnson, a number of British ministers and former prime minister Theresa May, on Saturday.
The ministry’s statement cited “unprecedented hostile actions of the British government, expressed, in particular, in the imposition of sanctions against top officials” in Russia.
“The Russophobic course of action of the British authorities, whose main goal is to stir up negative attitude toward our country, curtailing of bilateral ties in almost all areas are detrimental to the wellbeing and interests of the residents of Britain,” the statement said.
“Any sanctions attack will inevitably backfire on their initiators and receive a decisive rebuff.”
On Friday evening, the ministry announced the expulsion of 18 European Union diplomats from Moscow, in retaliation for the bloc declaring 19 diplomats from the Russian mission to the EU and to the European Atomic Energy Community persona non-grata.
The European Union said the expulsions were groundless, and that EU diplomats targeted were working in the framework of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations.
War far from over as Russia renews strikes in Kyiv
Russian forces resumed scattered attacks on Kyiv, western Ukraine and beyond on Saturday in an explosive reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country remains under threat despite Russia’s pivot toward mounting a new offensive in the east.
Officials in Moscow said they were targeting military sites.
In the Kyiv region alone, Ukrainian authorities have reported finding the bodies of more than 900 civilians, most shot dead, since Russian troops retreated two weeks ago.
A mother wept over her 15-year-old son’s body in the partially blockaded city of Kharkiv, where shelling has increased as Russia prepares for the anticipated eastern offensive.
Nine civilians died and more than 50 people were wounded on Friday, the President’s office reported.
An explosion believed to be caused by a missile struck on Saturday near an outdoor market in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, according to firefighters and AP journalists at the scene.
One person was killed, and at least 18 people were wounded, according to rescue workers who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to release the information.
In the capital, smoke rose early on Saturday from eastern Kyiv as Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported a strike on the the city’s Darnytski district.
One person was killed and several more were wounded, he said. The mayor advised residents who fled the city earlier in the war not to return for their safety.
“Our air defence forces are doing everything they can to protect us, but the enemy is insidious and ruthless,” Cr Klitschko said.
It was not immediately clear from the ground what was hit in the attack.
Darnytskyi is a sprawling district on the south-eastern edge of the capital, containing a mixture of Soviet-style apartment blocks, newer shopping centres, big-box retail outlets, industrial areas and railyards.
Earlier this week the Russian military said it would carry out strikes on Kyiv, and Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday an armoured vehicle plant in the Ukrainian capital was targeted. He didn’t specify where the plant is located, but there is one in the Darnytskyi district.
He said it was among multiple Ukrainian military sites hit with “air-launched high-precision long-range weapons”.
As the US and Europe send new arms to Ukraine, the strategy could be aimed at hobbling Ukraine’s defences ahead of what’s expected to be a full-scale Russian assault in the east.
It was the second strike in the Kyiv area in two days. Another hit a missile plant on Friday as tentative signs of pre-war life began to resurface in the capital after Russian troops failed to capture the city and withdrew to concentrate on launching a full-scale assault in eastern Ukraine.
Kyiv was not the only target on Saturday. The governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine — far from the Russian border and an area long seen as a safe zone — reported airstrikes on the region by Russian Su-35 aircraft that took off from neighbouring Belarus.
Maksym Kozytskyy didn’t provide details about possible casualties or damage.
Devastation continues in Mariupol
Fighting continued in the pummelled southern port city of Mariupol, where locals reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies from residential courtyards and prohibiting new burials.
“Why the exhumation is being carried out and where the bodies will be taken is unknown,” the city council said on Friday on the Telegram messaging app.
Mariupol has been blockaded by Russian forces since the early days of the invasion, and dwindling numbers of Ukrainian defenders have held out against a siege that has come at a horrific cost to trapped and starving civilians.
The mayor said this week that the city’s death toll could surpass 20,000. Other Ukrainian officials have said they expect to find evidence in Mariupol of atrocities like the ones discovered in Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv.
Mariupol’s capture would allow Russian forces in the south, which came up through the annexed Crimean Peninsula, to fully link up with troops in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian troops occupying parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south of terrorising civilians and hunting for anyone who served in Ukraine’s military or government.
“The occupiers think this will make it easier for them to control this territory. But they are very wrong. They are fooling themselves,” Mr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
“Russia’s problem is that it is not accepted — and never will be accepted — by the entire Ukrainian people. Russia has lost Ukraine forever.”
Mr Zelenskyy estimated 2500 to 3000 Ukrainian troops had died in the war and about 10,000 had been injured.
The Russians were holding captive some 700 Ukrainian troops and more than 1000 civilians, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in televised remarks on Saturday.
Ms Vereshchuk said Ukraine holds about the same number of Russian troops as prisoners and – intends to arrange a swap with Moscow but is demanding the release of civilians “without any conditions”.