As the Russian invasion of Ukraine appears to intensify by the day and more refugees from the country are flooding into Europe, the U.K. housing minister announced on Sunday, March 13, plans to house Ukrainian refugees at the mansions of sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

Housing minister Michael Gove has said that the British government is looking into temporarily seizing the houses of sanctioned Russian oligarchs to house the Ukrainian refugees coming into the country, as punishment for Russia’s invasion attempt, according to Reuters.

“I want to explore an option which would allow us to use the homes and properties of sanctioned individuals for as long as they are sanctioned for humanitarian and other purposes,” Gove said.

The anti-corruption organization Transparency International has said that there is at least $2 billion in property that is owned by Russian oligarchs in the United Kingdom, with many of them having been linked to financial crimes or with dealings inside the Kremlin, BBC reported.

Many of the houses and properties owned by Russian oligarchs are owned through their companies, though the British government promises to help reduce the amount of Russian investment in British properties while sanctions stay up.

Although Gove has not given any concrete plans towards the use of Russian-owned mansions to house Ukrainian refugees, he clarified that they are looking into the process to see if it can be done to send a message of antagonism against oligarchs who support Putin.

“There is quite a high legal bar to cross and we're not talking about permanent confiscation but we are saying, 'you're sanctioned, you're supporting Putin, this home is here, you have no right to use or profit from it' and ... if we can use it in order to help others let's do that,” Gove clarified.

In spite of the heavy sanctions that were set against Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained stubborn in continuing his war on the country and has tried to paint the situation in Ukraine as inevitable, according to al-Jazeera.

“These sanctions would have been imposed in any case,” Putin said. “There are some questions, problems, and difficulties but in the past, we have overcome them and we will overcome them now. In the end, this will all lead to an increase in our independence, self-sufficiency, and our sovereignty.”

U.K. housing minister Michael Gove has said on Sunday that the United Kingdom plans to use the mansions of sanctioned Russian oligarchs to house the displaced Ukrainian refugees in the country. This is a representational image. Valery Tenevoy/Unsplash.

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