News ID: 321691
Published: 0241 GMT May 17, 2022

Kremlin: G7 using Russia's reserves for Ukraine would be 'outright theft'

Kremlin: G7 using Russia's reserves for Ukraine would be 'outright theft'

Officials at a working lunch at the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in Wangels, Germany, on May 13, 2022.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday it would be "outright theft" for the Group of Seven economic powers and European Union to seize Russia's frozen reserves and spend them on behalf of Ukraine.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told four European newspapers that he was open to the idea of seizing Russian state assets to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine and that proposals to that effect were already being discussed among the G7 and in the EU, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that no one had informed Russia of such an initiative, which he said would be "illegal, blatant and of course requiring an appropriate response... It would be, in fact, outright theft."

The Group of Seven major Western powers banned transactions with Russia's central bank and froze its assets held in their jurisdictions, worth around $300 billion, after Russia launched what it called its special military operation in Ukraine in February.

Earlier, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, had said the bloc should consider seizing the frozen assets from Russia's foreign exchange reserves and using them to help fund postwar reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.

Borrell told the Financial Times in an interview published on May 9 that the move would be similar to what Washington did with the Afghan central bank's assets following the return of the Taliban to power in the war-torn country.

In March, Russia said sanctions against it over the war had frozen around $300 billion of assets – around half of its total gold and foreign exchange reserves – held by Russia's central bank abroad.

"The European Commission has said the reconstruction price tag could run into hundreds of billions of euros, and EU capitals should consider seizing frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves to help pay for the cost of rebuilding Ukraine after the war," Borrell was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

"We have the money in our pockets, and someone has to explain to me why it is good for the Afghan money and not good for the Russian money," Borrell added.

After the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden froze the roughly $7 billion in central bank assets that the Western-backed government in Kabul had on deposit at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

In February, the White House said it plans to use half of the assets, currently frozen on U.S. soil, for humanitarian aid and set aside the rest to possibly satisfy lawsuits over the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Borrell said such a move was one of a number of ways in which Russia could be made to pay "war compensations" for the unprovoked invasion it launched against its neighbor on February 24.






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