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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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March 7th, 2014
06:35 PM ET

Why won’t the UK back sanctions against Russia? Follow the Russian money

(CNN) – President Barack Obama had not even yet outlined the sanctions he wanted to impose on those the U.S. government deems responsible for the Russian land-grab in Ukraine, before the world learned that the United Kingdom, perhaps America's closest ally, was dead set against them.

A secret document, photographed being carried by a British official into the Prime Minister's residence and office, outlined what the United Kingdom is and isn't willing to do to get Russia to stand down.

Britain should "not support, for now, trade sanctions ... or close London's financial centre to Russians," the document read.

Why? Because in the past few years, the United Kingdom has put out the welcome mat to hundreds of tycoons, kleptocrats, oligarchs, and other magnates from Russia and other former Soviet Republics.

The millions of dollars Russians pour into London, "make it very difficult for our government to make any kind of independent judgment," said Oliver Bullough, author of "The Last Man in Russia."

Bullough recently wrote a telling article in The New Republic, explaining why Britain's timid response to Putin may all come down to cold hard cash.

"What you've got to know about Britain and London, we like to present an image it's about Princess Kate and Downton Abbey, but essentially we're here for business," said Bullough. "If you can afford the entrance fee, we're up for it."

In 1991, when the Soviet Union fell apart and Russia started to quickly privatize, a small number of well-connected Russians became extremely wealthy.

"And some Brits realized there was some opportunity here," said Bullough.

For more of our interview with journalist Oliver Bullough, check out the video above.

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