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5 Jan, 2023 12:12

Moscow warns of retaliation if Germany goes through with asset seizure

Berlin should not “ignore international law” unless it wants other countries to follow suit, Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin says
Moscow warns of retaliation if Germany goes through with asset seizure

The proposed confiscation of Russian funds and property by Germany and their subsequent transfer to Ukraine may create a dangerous precedent in international law, Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, has claimed.

In a post on Thursday to his official Telegram channel, Volodin wrote that the measure runs counter to international law, and may lead other countries to take similar actions.

They plan to seize Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine… This will start a process where all states ignore international law and take what they see fit at their own discretion,” Volodin warned, adding that Germany’s leadership “should remember from their own country’s history how attempts to encroach on someone else’s property ended.

Volodin stressed that Russia will have the right to take similar steps against Germany if Russian funds are seized.

We now live in a different reality: not only according to the UN Charter, but also based on precedents. There are no unilateral decisions, the rules must be the same for everyone. The same goes for the seizure of money and property. Once such a decision is made, we have the right to take similar actions against the assets of Germany and other states,” the official said.

The idea of seizing frozen Russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine has been discussed within the EU for some time. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, Berlin has stepped up negotiations on the controversial step and is mulling the option of selectively confiscating assets, only taking the funds of Russians whose involvement in the Ukraine operation has been proven.

However, opinions reportedly differ within the German government on whether the measure should be introduced and to what extent. The selective approach, for instance, would be difficult to implement, as it may take years for each case to go through the courts, analysts warn.

Amid the sanctions that followed the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine last February, Western governments froze some €300 billion ($311 billion) in reserves belonging to the Russian central bank, along with billions in assets owned by sanctioned Russian businessmen.

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