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Four European Union countries call for the use of Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine

Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia and Estonia will on Tuesday call for the confiscation of Russian assets frozen by the European Union to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine after the Russian invasion, a joint letter written by the four states said on Monday. .

On May 3, Ukraine estimated that around $600 billion would be needed to rebuild the country after the destruction caused by Russia. But with the war still in full swing, the sum has likely increased sharply, the letter says.

“A substantial part of the costs of rebuilding Ukraine, including compensation for victims of Russian military aggression, must be covered by Russia,” says the letter, which is due to be presented to finance ministers on Tuesday. EU.

The letter, seen by Reuters, also calls on the 27-nation bloc to start preparing new sanctions against Moscow.

“Ultimately, if Russia does not stop the military aggression against Ukraine, there should be no more economic ties between the EU and Russia, ensuring that none of our financial resources, products or services contributes to the Russian war machine,” he said.

The four countries noted that the EU and like-minded countries have already frozen assets belonging to Russian natural and legal persons and some $300 billion in central bank reserves.

“We must now identify legal ways to maximize the use of these resources as a source of funding – both for the costs of Ukraine’s continued efforts to resist Russian aggression and for the country’s post-war reconstruction. “, they said.

“The confiscation of state assets, such as central bank reserves or state-owned enterprise assets, has a direct connection and effect in this regard.”

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The EU has so far frozen some €30 billion in assets of Russian and Belarusian oligarchs and entities.

The European Commission said last Wednesday that it could check whether it was possible to seize frozen Russian assets to finance Ukraine under national and European laws, but did not mention central bank reserves.

“Freezing assets is different from seizing them,” Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said. “In most member states this is not possible and a criminal conviction is required to confiscate the assets. Also, legally speaking, private entities and central bank assets are not the same,” he said.

He said the Commission would come forward later this week with a proposal to make breach of restrictive measures a crime in the EU, as well as a proposal to revise and strengthen current EU rules on confiscation and strengthen the asset recovery and confiscation system.
“In cases where legal means to confiscate assets will not be identified, they should only be used as leverage and released once Russia compensates Ukraine for all damages caused,” the four countries said.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” which it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and capture what it sees as dangerous nationalists.

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