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2 Feb, 2024 16:01

Ukraine seeks $1 trn from Russia – Zelensky aide

The sum should compensate damage sustained by the country, the Ukrainian president’s top economic adviser has said
Ukraine seeks $1 trn from Russia – Zelensky aide

Russia’s assets frozen by the West won’t be enough to cover the damage Ukraine has sustained due to Russia’s military operation, the Ukrainian president’s top economic adviser, Oleg Ustenko, said on Friday during a national telethon, as cited by RBK news outlet.

“We are not talking about the figure of $300–350 billion of their gold and foreign exchange reserves. According to estimates made in Kiev, we are talking about $750 billion in direct losses. If we add indirect losses, this could raise the figure to $1 trillion,” Ustenko was cited as saying.

In mid-2022, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmigal already named the amount that would be required to restore Ukraine, estimating it at $750 billion and saying at the time that the key source for the funds should come from the “confiscated assets that belong to Russia and Russian oligarchs.”

President Vladimir Zelensky later noted that the necessary reparations were estimated at $600–$800 billion. In late 2023, the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice ruled out the possibility of concluding a peace deal with Russia without receiving reparations for the damages sustained from the conflict.

Kiev and its Western allies have long been mulling ways to use Russian assets blocked abroad to restore Ukraine. On January 30, EU member states reached an agreement allowing Brussels to transfer the income generated by Russia’s frozen central bank reserves to Kiev, but have so far stopped short of tapping the assets themselves.

It’s estimated that Belgium’s Euroclear, the bloc’s central security depository, holds €196.6 billion (nearly $220 billion) worth of Russian assets, the vast majority of which belong to the country’s central bank. In its financial results for 2023 published on Thursday, Euroclear revealed that it accrued almost $5 billion in profit from frozen Russian assets last year. It is assumed that Euroclear’s profits will not be paid to the owners of the assets but will later be transferred to a special EU fund to support Ukraine.

In total, the EU has frozen €207 billion (just over $231 billion) of Russian assets and reserves since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that any actions related to its assets by the US and its allies would amount to “theft,” stressing that seizure of the funds or any similar move would violate international law and lead to a tit-for-tat response from Russia. Several Western officials, including European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, have also warned that tapping frozen Russian funds would undermine trust in Western currencies and the economic system.

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