February 2, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Germany will help Ukraine with Russian assets

Germany is ready to seize Russian assets, which it will send to help restore Ukraine.

This will happen if the allies also follow this path, and the process is legally justified, writes Bloomberg, citing competent sources. Due to divisions in the ruling coalition, the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz has not yet taken an official position on the seizure of Russian assets, although it supports Ukraine’s demand for war reparations.

If Berlin solves its own problems, this will give a new impetus to discussions in EU and pressure the US to seize assets such as central bank reserves frozen in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Annalena Burbock, German foreign minister, insists that seizing at least some of the frozen assets should be an option.

More cautious is Christian Lindner, the finance minister who heads the business-oriented Free Democrats. He suggests that the confiscation of the assets of the Russian central bank can create a dangerous precedent, lead the countries of Europe and their allies into a legal swamp.

Currently, the European Union and the G7 countries have frozen approximately 300 billion euros of Russia’s central bank reserves. In addition, the EU blocked about 19 billion euros of assets owned by Russian businessmen who fell under the sanctions. However, these estimates are not complete. Assets are in “suspended condition” and cannot be distributed today.

One of the interlocutors noted that there is a more likely path from a legal point of view – instead of a complete arrest, it would be possible to seize the assets of persons who have already been proven to be involved in Russian war crimes. But such cases can take years and be considered in the courts, so the initiative is quite capable of turning into banal symbolism.

The details of the discussions show that the potential for seizure of assets is moving beyond the theoretical debate and moving towards practical implementation, but there are serious obstacles. Therefore, the German chancellor wants every step to be coordinated with the allies and legally clear. Recall that Russian oligarchs lost almost $95 billion last year against the backdrop of sanctions imposed by Western countries because of the war in Ukraine.

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