Canada has sanctioned Johnson’s associate, the former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev, who it says is one of the “key members of President Putin’s inner circle”, reports Adam Bienkov

Boris Johnson is refusing to impose sanctions on the Russian oligarch and former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev, despite one of the UK’s closest allies identifying him as as a key member of “President Putin’s inner circle”.

The Canadian Government announced on Friday that it had imposed sanctions on Lebedev, who they said was among those who had “directly enabled Vladimir Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine”.

In a statement justifying the sanctions, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, said that “the Putin regime must, and will, answer for their unjustifiable acts.”

Alexander Lebedev is the father of Johnson’s close friend Evgeny Lebedev, who owns the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers.

Asked by Byline Times on Monday whether the UK would be joining their ally in sanctioning Alexander Lebedev, Johnson’s spokesman said they would not comment on the “different judgement” taken by Canada.

“It’s not for me to comment on a different judgement of a different country,” Johnson’s spokesman said, before adding that “we will, and have taken significant action against Putin’s inner circle.”

Johnson has met with Alexander Lebedev on multiple occasions, including at a party held by his son Evgeny in his Italian villa.

In 2018 the then Foreign Secretary left his security detail behind in order to attend the event, held just days after a Nato meeting to discuss Russia’s poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the UK.

Johnson ennobled Alexander’s son Evgeny in 2020, despite warnings by the UK’s security services.

Multiple reports suggest that MI6 initially advised against Lebedev’s appointment due to concerns about Alexander Lebedev’s suspected links to Putin.

As Byline Times first reported, this advice was changed following a private meeting between Evgeny Lebedev and Johnson, of which no minutes were kept.

Alexander Lebedev and Evgeny Lebedev. Photo: WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy

The Prime Minister recently refused to comply with a vote by MPs ordering him to release details of the advice he received from the security services against placing Evgeny in the House of Lords.

The Labour Party accused the government of a “cover-up” for refusing to release the information.

Correspondence revealed by Byline Times earlier this year showed how Evgeny Lebedev built a close relationship with Johnson over the course of a decade.

The letters show that Lebedev lobbied Johnson to support a new Russian arts festival while he was Mayor of London, which he said had “substantial support from the Russian Government”.

Johnson, who attended dozens of dinners, parties, drinks and meetings with Lebedev during that period also told the newspaper proprietor that he would “thrilled” to secure his support.

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