February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Greece and Malta are in no hurry to freeze Russian assets

Malta and Greece are the two countries where during the 10 months of the war in Ukraine the smallest freeze among all countries EU amount of Russian assets.

For the entire period after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Greece froze assets for only 212 thousand euros, and Malta – for 147 thousand euros. Thus, these countries lag behind other states of the European Union and slow down the process, reported Reuters agency January 11, citing their anonymous sources.

A total of 27 EU countries reported freezing about 20.3 billion euros of Russian assets under sanctions. Actions totaling over a billion euros were reported by Italy, France, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Luxembourg.

According to the European Commission, almost every second EU country has frozen assets for at least a million dollars. Greece has now informed the bloc of a €212,000 asset freeze, and Malta a €147,000 asset freeze. A spokesman for the Greek authorities stated that this amount depleted all assets identified by Athens based on the EU sanctions list:

“The investment environment in Greece is not conducive to the inflow of Russian capital and offshore companies.”

An EU representative told the publication on condition of anonymity:

“It’s a bit strange. Either there aren’t many of them, or they’re not doing their job. Or they did something, but didn’t tell us, even though they had a chance.”

Reuters notes that the attention of the EU is now turned to how to confiscate the frozen assets and spend them on the reconstruction of Ukraine. We are talking, among other things, about the asset of the Russian central bank in Europe, in the amount of approximately 300 billion euros.

However, there are too few such legal precedents to date. Some member countries have raised concerns about further lawsuits. Other states note the correctness of such a decision.

The EU is also working to make sanctions circumvention a criminal offense in all member states, which is not yet the case. The EU official noted that the bloc’s top leadership should be able to announce progress on these issues when they travel to Kyiv on February 3 for the EU-Ukraine summit.

Estonia plans by the end of January to create a legislative framework that will allow it to transfer Russian assets frozen by Tallinn to Ukraine. Previously it was reported that Germany ready send frozen Russian assets to the reconstruction of Ukraine, but only on the condition that there is a legal basis for this, and the allies will do the same.

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