As Russia launches an invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government is preparing to set out tougher sanctions against Vladimir Putin's Russia.

But the Tories have long been criticised for their own economic links to Russian money and have faced a barrage of calls to stop accepting such donations.

In 2020, a report condemned successive UK Governments for failing to protect Britain from Russian influence.

It said that Russian influence at the highest levels of society was “the new normal”.

READ MORE: Ukrainian politician thanks Scotland for support but warns UK sanctions not good enough

And on Wednesday, the SNP’s Westminster leader said Boris Johnson was allowing a “sewer of dirty Russian money” to run Britain because oligarchs donate to the Tory party.

Ian Blackford said the Prime Minister cannot be trusted to “clean up” Britain’s relationship with Russian oligarchs if he cannot do it in his own party.

But what are the Conservative Party’s links to Russian money?

How much money have Russian-linked donors given to the Conservative Party?

SINCE Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, the Conservative Party has accepted more than £2 million from donors linked to Russia.

And a quarter of the PM’s Cabinet has received donations from such individuals.

The National:

The Centre shows Liz Truss and Theresa May next to donor Lubov Chernukhin

Several influential Russian-linked donors have paid hundreds of thousands just to dine with Tory politicians.

What Tory politicians are linked to donors?

According to a 2020 report, 14 ministers and two MPs in Johnson’s government at the time were linked to Russian donors.

Among them were Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Minister Alok Sharma.

They were joined by eight junior ministers and two MPs, including Theresa Villiers and Mark Pritchard, both of whom sit on the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Johnson himself has come under fire for taking part in a tennis match with Lubov Chernukhin alongside then prime minister David Cameron in 2014 in exchange for a £160,000 donation to the party. Chernukhin’s husband Vladimir was previously Putin’s finance minister.

In 2019, Chernukhin also dined with former PM Theresa May and the cabinet members following a £135,000 donation.

The National:

Lubov Chernukhin has met with the very top of the Tory party after she donated millions to them

As well as this, a £30,000 donation saw her take part in a dinner with then education secretary Gavin Williamson.

In 2018, she also paid £20,000 to have lunch with former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. It is still unknown whether the meal ever took place.

Lubov is the largest female donor in British political history, giving away £2m to the Conservatives from 2012-2020.

Lubov earned more controversy after it was discovered she sat on a government advisory board where she reportedly got access to senior figures in Downing Street.

The National: Putin, London, Russian russia Dirty money Montage - Damian Shields.

UK connections with donors linked to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government has led to Britain's capital being labelled 'Londongrad'

Meanwhile, Russian-British businessman Victor Fedotov’s companies backed 34 Tory MPs. Fedotov allegedly made millions from a corrupt Russian pipeline deal.

Documents in the Pandora Papers in 2021 suggest Fedotov and two others made fortunes from a company in the mid-2000s, around the time it was alleged to have been siphoning funds from the Russian state pipeline monopoly Transneft.

The National:

Viktor Fedotov was allegedly involved in a corrupt Russian pipeline deal

The BBC reported that he benefited from an alleged $4 billion fraud in Russia. His lawyers have denied this.

What are Boris Johnson’s other connections?

The Prime Minister has a close relationship with newspaper mogul Evgeny Lebedev, son of the Russian oligarch and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev.

While London mayor, Johnson made repeated trips to Evgeny’s Italian villa, for what his spokesperson described as a “purely personal” trip.

Overruling advice from the House of Lords Appointments Commission, Johnson later handed the businessman a peerage.

READ MORE: 'Sewer of dirty Russian money going to Tory coffers,' Ian Blackford says

The Insider has reported that Evgeny has since failed to attend a single vote in the House of Lords.

Why are Russian-linked millionaires donating to the Tory party?

According to the Tory Foreign Office Minister for Europe and North America, it’s because they share the Conservative Party’s “objectives and aims”.

But according to others, it is because they want one thing: influence.

Many hefty donations made by those with links to Russia have been followed by an in-person meet-up with senior members of the party.

What's the Conservative Party's defence?

The Tories say all donors are legitimate and claim the donors merely happen to have Russian heritage. Criticised on the issue, Johnson accused his opponents of "Russophobia".

Asked about Chernukin specifically, Liz Truss, who has been pictured with her, said: “I think it’s very important we don’t conflate people with Russian heritage, with people close to the Putin regime.”

And Tory minister James Cleverly defended the donations, saying Russian-linked donors do not influence government policy in any way.