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A precedent on a global scale: What’s the problem with confiscating Russian assets for Ukraine’s benefit?

There are currently at least $300 billion in frozen Russian assets, both private and state-owned, in various parts of the world. However, the issue of their confiscation for Ukraine’s benefit hasn’t been solved yet. The Minister of Finance, Serhii Marchenko, states in his interview with RBC Ukraine that the key obstacle is the absence of a mechanism to do this without the consent of the owners of these assets.

Speaking of Russia’s international reserves, the minister expects the process to be protracted. Although possible solutions have already been found, he doubts that "this way has been clearly crystallized and understood by all actors."

Quote"The confiscation of assets to the benefit of Ukraine is a precedent on a global scale. That’s why the countries that have to make such decisions aren’t ready to take this step yet. The freezing of assets is being discussed, and it was acknowledged that this would be fair and that Ukraine may and should claim these assets. The losses for Ukraine’s economy are being calculated, and there are reports on this issue that are taken into account. However, there is still no clearly formed legal mechanism for these funds to be seized to Ukraine’s benefit without the consent of their owners," he explained.

Several teams are working on this issue in Ukraine, including a legal working group formed in the Presidential Office.

Marchenko is optimistic and asserts that the right way will finally be found for Ukraine to be able to "use these funds to help the country, whatever the format."

Context. Back in September, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal estimated the frozen Russian assets to amount to $300 billion to $500 billion. This includes money, real estate, and other property, as well as international reserves of the Bank of Russia stored abroad.

In November, Politico wrote, citing an internal European Commission document, that the EU has frozen a total of €68 billion in Russian assets, the most part or €50 billion being in Belgium. At the same time, the EC cannot tell how much of Russia’s national reserves are frozen in the EU. The document gives an approximate figure of €33.8 billion but adds that "this is now under assessment, so not to be quoted."

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