Monday, March 4, 2024

Ukraine claims US promised to seize Russian assets

Washington has given assurances to Kiev that Russian assets which remain frozen in the West are going to be seized and used to rebuild Ukraine after the conflict, Prime Minister Denis Shmygal has claimed.

Washington and its allies have blocked some $300 billion of Russian central bank assets as part of sanctions in response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. Around $200 billion of that money is held in the EU.

Politico has reported that it asked Shmygal if he was concerned that US funding for the Kiev government would come to a complete stop if Donald Trump won the presidential election in November and returned to the White House for his second term.

”We have all the assurances from the US about long-term support for Ukraine – for example, the seizure of Russian assets to fund the Ukrainian recovery,” he claimed.

On Wednesday, a US Senate committee approved the “Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act”, which should help pave the way for such a move by Washington. If it passes both houses and is signed into law by President Joe Biden, Washington could seize the Russian central bank assets, using such a measure against a country that it’s not directly at war with for the first time in history.

Reuters reported this week, citing a senior official in Brussels, that the EU will be unlikely to join the US in confiscating the Russian funds as there’s no agreement on such a step between the bloc’s member states.

Earlier in January, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned that Moscow would respond to a possible seizure of its assets by the West, inducing tit-for-tat measures.

Previously, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the confiscation of Russian funds would amount to “outright theft” by the West. He told reporters that it would undermine the trust in the US and EU financial systems around the globe.

Shmygal also stated that Kiev is “working hard with the administration of President Biden and with Congress to have support for 2024”. As for the continuation of the aid in 2025, “we’ll see how conditions develop”, he stressed.

”I believe that any president of the US will support our fight for civilized values, our mutual values,” the Ukrainian PM added.

The US has provided Ukraine with around $111 billion in economic and military support amid the conflict with Russia. But the flow of funds subsided dramatically in recent months as Republican lawmakers continue to resist attempts by the White House to push through another $60 billion in assistance for Kiev.

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