Ukraine seeks ‘seizure’ of Russian assets to bankroll reconstruction
Kiev is working to effect the “seizure” of Russian assets in the West and their disbursement to Ukraine, in order to pay for rebuilding the country following the present conflict, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said at a press event on Thursday.
He told reporters that a “working group” had been established to see how Russian assets frozen in the West could be transferred to Kiev. While admitting that the exact legal framework for the intended confiscation remains to be determined, as there’s “no single procedure in the world to do this,” Shmygal said Kiev would “work with each country separately” to develop a scheme to pay for Ukraine's reconstruction efforts.
This echoed Shmygal’s words last week at a government meeting, where he identified the “freezing and seizure of all Russian funds and assets abroad” as one of the three “directions” Kiev was considering as part of its plans to rebuild the country, along with the “accumulation of funds from partners” and arrival at a “competent calculation” of the losses incurred during Russia’s ongoing military operation.
Ukraine had received more than $3 billion in financial support from abroad, Shmygal said at the time, adding that Kiev was in negotiations for another $10 billion, according to Interfax news agency.
Kiev announced plans in early March to establish four distinct funds to rebuild Ukraine following the conflict. One was earmarked for restoring the destroyed property and infrastructure, another for “debt service and repayment,” the third to “support affected business” with the aim of restoring normalcy in the private sector, and the fourth dedicated to “economic renewal and transformation,” which Shmygal characterized as a “Ukrainian Marshall Plan” to not just rebuild, but “build a new European country.”
Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and end the conflict with the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia ended up recognizing the two as independent states, at which point they asked for military aid.
Russia demands that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two Donbass republics by force.