Germany open to seize Russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine — media reports

3 January, 07:15 PM
Olaf Scholz (Photo:REUTERS/Michele Tantussi)

Olaf Scholz (Photo:REUTERS/Michele Tantussi)

Germany is open to using billions of euros in frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine rebuild as long as legal issues can be resolved and allies follow suit, the Bloomberg news agency reported on Jan. 3, with reference to people familiar with the discussions.

According to the agency, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government supports Ukraine’s demand for war reparations but hasn’t yet taken an official position on seizing assets from the Russian state, since the issue is complex and some parts of the ruling coalition are more ardent than others.

In particular, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wants Russia to pay for the damages caused in Ukraine. The former co-leader of Germany’s Greens, who is a long-time advocate of a tougher stance on the Kremlin, insists that seizing at least some of the frozen assets needs to be an option.

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At the same time, Finance Minister Christian Lindner, who heads the pro-business Free Democrats, is more cautious. He’s concerned that confiscating Russian central-bank assets could create a dangerous precedent and lead European nations and their allies into a legal quagmire, the officials said.

Bloomberg reported that instead of a blanket seizure, a more sold path in legal terms could be to target assets of individuals who have been proven to be involved in Russian war crimes. Such cases though could take years to make their way through courts, which could reduce such an initiative to mere symbolism.

“The detail of the discussions shows how the potential for asset seizures is moving beyond a theoretical debate and toward implementation, but major hurdles remain,” the news agency quoted sources as saying.

“Scholz wants any move coordinated with allies and legally tight.”

The UN General Assembly on Nov. 14 passed a draft resolution on Russia’s payment of compensation to Ukraine for the damage caused.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the government wants to receive about $300-500 billion in Russian assets frozen in various countries and use them to rebuild the country.

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