A new Government unit is being set up to crack down on companies flouting Russian trade sanctions and funding its invasion of Ukraine.

The office of trade sanctions implementation will issue civil penalties for breaches and refer cases to HM Revenue and Customs for criminal enforcement, industry and economic security minister Nusrat Ghani announced.

The body will investigate possible sanctions evasion by firms by sending products through other countries where they do not apply.

Ms Ghani said: “Our package of sanctions, the most severe ever imposed on a major economy, is working – goods imports from Russia to the UK have already plummeted by 94%.

“But we are leaving no stone unturned in our commitment to stopping Putin’s war machine.

“That means clamping down on sanctions evaders and starving Russia of the technologies and revenues it needs to continue its illegal invasion.

“Today’s announcement will help us do that, and send a clear message to those breaking the rules that there is nowhere to hide.”

The UK is expected to impose fresh sanctions targeting items Ukraine has found on the battlefield, such as machine parts and chemicals, as well as products that raise revenue to fund Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war effort.

Sanctions minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Today’s announcement will further strengthen the UK’s sanctions system and allow us to maximise the impact that trade sanctions have on those who continue to flout the global rules.

“Without international sanctions, we estimate Russia would have over 400 billion dollars (£319 billion) more to fund the war, enough to fund the invasion for a further four years.

“We are hitting Russia where it hurts and starving Putin of the resources he needs to fund his illegal war on Ukraine.”