LIZ Truss has come under fire for denying how close the UK Government is to Russian money.

In an interview on BBC Breakfast, the Foreign Secretary was shown a photo of her beside Lubov Chernukhin, a former banker married to the former Russian oligarch Vladimir Chernukhin.

Chernukhin is one of the biggest female donors in recent British political history and since 2012, she has given the Tories £2.1 million.

BBC Breakfast presenter, Dan Walker, asked Truss: "Let me show you a picture from May of 2019. This is when Theresa May was prime minister and this was from your Instagram. I think the thing you posted with this was was 'Ladies Night'. There you are next to Theresa May. Next to it on the other side, Theresa May is Lubov Chernukhin, who's the wife of a former Russian minister [Vladimir Chernukhin] who's given the Conservative Party more than £1.8 million.

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"That makes her the biggest female donor in recent British political history. Her wealth comes from her husband Vladimir who has strong links to the Kremlin. Now in that picture, there are six female cabinet members. Liz Truss that shows us, doesn't it, the closeness of the British government to Russian money?"

Truss responded: "What I can say to you today is that we will target anybody who we believe has links to the Putin regime who is helping support and prop up the Putin government and nothing is off the table in terms of who we target."

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Russia is currently estimated to have 150,000 troops massed on the borders around Ukraine, with warplanes and armoured vehicles continuing to deploy in the area.

When asked if she is embarrassed at seeing the photograph, Truss said: "No, I'm not, I attended the dinner at the time. I make my decisions as Foreign Secretary on the basis of what is right. And, as I've said, without prejudice, we will target anybody who is of interest in terms of the Russian regime who is helping prop up Vladimir Putin's appalling regime, and there are no other considerations, as far as I'm concerned."

The National:

A 2019 photo of Lubov Chernukhin, fourth from right, beside Theresa May. Photograph: Instagram (

Walker asked: "Do you think that the money that has been donated to the Conservative Party should be given back?"

"As I said, there is money donated to the Conservative party. Everybody who donates is on the British electoral register. They are fully vetted before making those donations. I think it's very important that we don't conflate people with Russian heritage and Russian backgrounds with people who are close to the Putin regime. What I'm clear about is that we will target people who are close to the Putin regime. We will target companies who are supportive of the Putin regime and are helping prop up the economy."

The clip was mocked on Twitter, with many people pointing out Truss's hypocrisy.

One user said: "This is genuinely funny. Turns out there’s nothing wrong with taking money from an ‘appalling’ regime on which you’re declaring ‘sanctions’. If you’re #LizTruss that is."

Kenneth Watt said: "Oh deary me, how embarrassing can our government actually become? As this is cringeworthy."

Another said: "Swear at one point you could see Lis Truss' soul leave her body, forced out by shame...but obviously that's impossible because that would require her having a soul, which of course she doesn't."

James Whitson added: "Every time a politician starts an answer with 'what I can say', you know they’re not going to answer the question."

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It follows Vladimir Putin’s announcement that Russia would recognise the breakaway “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, a move seen by many in the West as a precursor to a full-scale invasion.

Truss said it is still unclear whether Russian troops have crossed into the territories, after Putin said he was authorising the despatch of “peacekeepers” to the area.

“That is, frankly, ambiguous at this stage,” she told Sky News. “We’ve heard from Putin himself that he is sending in troops. We don’t yet have the full evidence that that has taken place.”

She said, however, that Britain and other Western allies are determined to make it as difficult as possible for Russia if an attack does take place – including through the supply of defensive weaponry to Ukraine.

“I believe that Putin is hell-bent on invading Ukraine,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“This is about inflicting pain on Putin and degrading the Russian economic system over time, targeting people that are close to Putin.

“What we have to do is make it as painful as possible, both by supplying support to the Ukrainian government in terms of defensive weapons, in terms of economic support, and by imposing economic costs.”