Thursday

7th Jul 2022

EU and US keen to seize Russian funds for Ukraine

  • EU financial affairs commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis (Photo: ec.europa.eu)
Listen to article

The EU is carrying out legal assessments on whether it can use frozen Russian money to rebuild Ukraine after the war, the EU Commission said Wednesday (18 May).

"We need to make sure Russia pays for its aggression against Ukrainian people and the damage it has caused," EU financial affairs commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We are not alone in this and the US thinking goes in the same direction", he added.

The potential Russian pot would consist of some €285bn from frozen Russian central bank reserves as well as more than €30bn in frozen private assets of Russian oligarchs.

"We are doing the legal assessments, but clearly we must cast the net wide. There is a principle in international law that the aggressor pays and we must make sure Russia pays for the damage it is creating," Dombrovskis added.

The seizure of private assets of oligarchs "has to be done on the basis of criminal law [in those countries] where the assets are located," he also said.

The US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, who is visiting Europe this week, echoed the EU line while in Bonn, Germany.

"It's very natural that given the enormous destruction in Ukraine, and huge rebuilding costs that they will face, that we will look to Russia to help pay at least a portion of the price that will be involved," she said, Reuters reports.

"That said, while we're beginning to look at this, it would not be legal now in the United States for the government to seize those assets," she noted.

"It's not something that is legally permissible in the United States", she added.

In the meantime, the EU Commission has said it was ready to pay Ukraine €9bn in macro-financial assistance in the coming "weeks", according to economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

The International Monetary Fund estimates Ukraine will fall short by some €14bn by June to pay for wages and pensions and to keep schools and hospitals open in a shortfall growing by some €5bn a month as things stand.

The US and other Western countries, such as Canada, are also pouring in funds to help keep Ukraine going, but Europe's share will be the largest "since the war is on [our] borders", Dombrovskis noted.

The EU has already paid out €4.1bn since the war began in February, but will "continue to provide short-term financial support to Ukraine to meet its needs and keep basic services running," EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.

"We stand ready to take a leading role in the international reconstruction efforts to help rebuild a democratic and prosperous Ukraine" after the war ends as well, she added.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

EU aims to seize Russian assets amid legal unclarity

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said "no stone should be left unturned" in helping Ukraine rebuild post-war, including possibly seizing and repurposing Russian central bank assets — a move which would likely be challenged under international law.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. Danish ministers no longer allowed to delete text messages
  2. Report: British PM Johnson to resign today
  3. British PM defiant amid spate of resignations
  4. France says EU fiscal discipline rules 'obsolete'
  5. Russia claims untouchable status due to nuclear arsenal
  6. Catalan MEPs lose EU court case over recognition
  7. 39 arrested in migrant-smuggling dragnet
  8. France to nationalise nuclear operator amid energy crisis

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Russia influence debate leads to MEP mudslinging
  2. Johnson quits, leaving Brexit headaches to successor
  3. Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?
  4. EU should freeze all EU funds to Hungary, says study
  5. Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas
  6. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  7. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  8. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us