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27 May, 2023 11:14

UK to retain Russian assets until Kiev is compensated – Guardian

Moscow has described the seizures as theft and a violation of international law
UK to retain Russian assets until Kiev is compensated – Guardian

British officials have confirmed that Russian state assets will not be returned even after the conflict in Ukraine is over, but only when Moscow pays reparations to Kiev, The Guardian reported on Friday.

According to Russian estimates, more than $300 billion of the country’s foreign currency reserves have been frozen due to Western sanctions. Additionally, billions more worth of assets belonging to Russian citizens and businesses have been seized.

Assets and reserves belonging to the Russian state, valued at £26 billion ($32.1 billion), are currently being held in the UK, according to the Bank of Russia.

British MPs and Ukrainian officials have been pressing for the frozen funds to be handed over to Kiev for reconstruction efforts. UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly insisted last week that Russia’s sovereign assets should remain immobilized until the nation agreed to pay compensation to Ukraine, according to the outlet.

The EU and its allies have been looking into methods of confiscating Russian assets, with the Council of Europe last week establishing a digital register of damage for Ukraine – a move that has been described as the first step towards creating an “international compensation mechanism.”

The register will be based in The Hague and will serve as “evidence and claims information on damage, loss or injury caused to individuals, and the Ukrainian state.”

Earlier, the Financial Times reported that EU officials were examining how they might send Kiev profits generated from some €196.6 billion ($211.1 billion) in Russian assets held at Euroclear. The Russian funds at the world’s largest settlement house have generated hundreds of millions of euros in interest over the past year.

However, Western officials are still facing legal challenges over the feasibility of seizing Russian money. According to professor of public international law at the University of Oxford, Antonios Tzanakopoulos, Russian assets are protected by sovereign immunity as an embodiment of the state. Therefore, confiscating these funds would be in breach of international law.

Moscow has called Western attempts to transfer the seized assets to Ukraine “barbarism” and “theft,” warning that Russia will respond in kind if necessary.

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