The European Union is mulling ways to cash Russia’s frozen assets, claiming that the proceeds will go towards rebuilding Ukraine.
In response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, the EU has thus far frozen over €300 billion worth of Russian central bank reserves, and €19 billion in assets owned by Russian citizens. However, EU lawmakers are now looking into ways they can cash those assets, and supposedly use them to aid Ukraine’s recovery from the conflict. The issue at hand, though, is that in order to legally seize the funds, Russia would need to be convicted of a crime.
“In the short term, we could create, with our partners, a structure to manage these funds and invest them. We would then use the proceeds for Ukraine,” said EU president Ursula von der Leyen in a statement on Wednesday. Bloc officials have so far spent months debating how to go about such a move, and are proposing creating a UN-backed specialized court “to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression.”
“We will work on an international agreement with our partners to make this possible. And, together, we can find legal ways to get to it,” exclaimed von der Leyen. The European Commission suggested establishing a short-term fund to invest and manage the seized liquid capital, and once sanctions are lifted and a peace deal is reached, the funds would be returned to their rightful Russian owners. “The damage suffered by Ukraine is estimated at 600 billion euros. Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for the damage and cover the costs for rebuilding the country,” she added.
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