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28 Apr, 2024 18:47

‘Motherland is not for sale’ – Moscow

Russia will not allow its assets frozen by the West to be used as a bargaining chip, Maria Zakharova has said
‘Motherland is not for sale’ – Moscow

Russia will not cede any territory in exchange for the prospect of recovering its assets frozen abroad, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram on Sunday. Zakharova was commenting on a Wall Street Journal article claiming that Germany is considering trying to use the funds as leverage during potential peace talks between Moscow and Kiev.

Berlin has been opposing the US push to seize the frozen Russian assets and use them to fund Ukraine’s military and economic needs, according to the article, which was published on Sunday. One of the arguments reportedly brought up by German officials revolved around using the money as “leverage in any talks to end the war.” That strategy would supposedly force Moscow to “cede” some of the territory that Kiev lays claim to, the WSJ said.

The outlet did not provide any exact quotes or identify any specific German officials supporting this line of thought.

“I do not know who says what but assets are not to be exchanged for territories,” Zakharova wrote in a Telegram post. “The motherland is not for sale.”

Zakharova also maintained that the Russian assets should “stay untouched” and warned that “any Western theft would be met with a harsh response.” “Many people in the West have already understood this. It’s a pity that not everyone [has],” she added.

The EU and other G7 nations have blocked an estimated $300 billion in reserves belonging to the Russian central bank since the start of the Ukraine conflict in 2022. Most of the funds are being held by the Belgium-based clearinghouse Euroclear.

Earlier in April, the US passed a bill allowing Washington to liquidate frozen Russian assets and transfer the funds obtained to Ukraine. However, the US holds only around $6 billion out of the total amount. Washington has long been pushing its allies to seize the money outright but has encountered resistance from some allies, particularly Germany, according to the WSJ.

The potential use of the funds as a bargaining chip in future talks is just one of Berlin’s reasons, though, according to the WSJ. Germany is mostly concerned about the move potentially opening a Pandora’s box of historical restitution and reparations claims, including those linked to the nation’s own Nazi past, it said.

Berlin is currently facing such demands from Poland, which has been seeking $1.3 trillion in compensation since 2022. Greece asked for over $300 billion in 2019, while in Italy courts even reportedly attempted to seize German state property to fund paying compensation to the descendants of victims of the Nazi occupation.

The German government has so far brushed off those demands, arguing that “international law prohibits individuals from making claims against states in foreign courts and that state assets are immune from seizure,” the WSJ said. Seizing Russia’s money would violate this principle and greatly undermine Berlin’s legal position, it added.

Similar concerns are also reportedly driving Japan’s opposition to seizing the assets, since it also faces reparation claims from South Korea and other neighbors, the outlet reported. Tokyo and Berlin should also not be the only ones to worry since the move could open a way for other nations to claim reparations for slavery and colonialism, according to the WSJ.