REPO Act: US Now Closer to Sending Seized Russian Assets to Ukraine

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has voted 20-1 to advance the Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act, commonly known as the REPO Act. If enacted, the legislation would empower the U.S. government to seize and liquidate billions of dollars in Russian assets frozen within the country. This action aims to provide much-needed financial assistance to Ukraine in the aftermath of Russia’s illegal invasion.

The bipartisan effort, led by Republican Senator Jim Risch and Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, received praise from both sides of the aisle for its commitment to holding Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine.

Risch, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, highlighted the urgency of the REPO Act, stating, “For almost two years, Russia has committed unspeakable crimes in its illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Russia should pay to rebuild Ukraine, and U.S. leadership is essential to spur action.”

The bill, in a nutshell, “authorizes the Secretary of State to provide additional assistance to Ukraine using assets confiscated from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and other sovereign assets of the Russian Federation, and for other purposes.”

The REPO Act, introduced on June 15, 2023, has several key provisions designed to address the fallout from Russia’s aggression:

  1. Financial Responsibility: The legislation aims to ensure that Russia bears the financial burden for the damages resulting from its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
  2. Asset Confiscation: The president would be granted the authority to confiscate Russian sovereign assets frozen in the United States, redirecting these funds to support Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts.
  3. Sanctions Tie: The REPO Act prohibits the release of funds to sanctioned Russian entities until Russia withdraws from Ukraine and agrees to compensate for the harm caused by its aggression.
  4. International Cooperation: The president is instructed to collaborate with allies and partners to establish an international compensation mechanism. This mechanism would facilitate the transfer of confiscated or frozen Russian sovereign assets from various countries to assist Ukraine.
  5. State Department Resources: The legislation allocates additional resources to the State Department, empowering it to work with foreign partners and allies to pursue the goal of confiscating additional Russian sovereign assets globally.

Notably, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the bipartisan support, calling it a “significant international step.” Zelenskyy emphasized the bill’s importance in seeking justice for Ukraine and victims of Russian terror.

Natalia Arno, President of the Free Russia Foundation, echoed similar sentiments, stating, “Confiscation of Russian state assets is the most viable way of holding Russia accountable for the destruction of Ukraine.” Arno endorsed the swift passing and immediate implementation of the REPO Act, emphasizing its alignment with a United Nations General Assembly Resolution.

The counterpart legislation has reportedly cleared the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but it awaits votes on the floors of both the full House and Senate before reaching President Joe Biden’s desk for potential signing.

Information for this story was found via Reuters and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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