UK's Johnson says pressure could be applied to Putin's gold reserves

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LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - Britain and its western allies will increase the economic pressure on Russia by examining whether more can be done to prevent President Vladimir Putin from accessing gold reserves, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.

Western sanctions have frozen much of Russia's central bank's $640 billion in assets, barred several banks from global payments system SWIFT and hammered the rouble.

Ahead of a NATO meeting in Brussels, Johnson told LBC Radio that Putin had already crossed a red line and that he should appear before the International Criminal Court.

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"We need to do more," he said. "And so we need to do more economically. Can we do more to stop him using his gold reserves for instance, in addition to his cash reserves?

"The more pressure we apply now, particularly on things like gold, that I believe the more we can shorten the war."

Johnson added that U.S. President Joe Biden was right to say that Russia was guilty of committing war crimes.

"It is right that Russia should now be called before the International Court of Justice and right that President Putin should appear before the International Criminal Court. "There is no question that what they are doing is war crimes."

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Reporting by Kate Holton and Muvija M, Editing by Paul Sandle and Alex Richardson

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