Brussels opens the door to use frozen assets to Russia to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine

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Brussels opens the door to use frozen assets to Russia to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine

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The total amount of frozen Russian private assetsin the European Union, as a result of the eight sanctions packages approved so far by the Twenty-seven against Moscow. Due to the war in Ukraine, it amounts to almost 18.9 billion euros, while the reserves of the Central Bank of Russia, immobilized by the G7 countries and the EU due to the ban on transactions, estimated at 300 billion. A volume that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, now proposes to allocate to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine, as President Volodimir Zelenski has been demanding for months.

Brussels proposes moving to use the assets frozen to Russia and He will let Vladimir Putin's regime “financially pay for the devastation it has caused.” According to estimates by the World BankAs stated in the document sent to the Twenty-seven, the overall damage in Ukraine since Putin ordered an invasion of the country on February 24 is close to 350,000 million euros. A figure that has not reached a ceiling and that will continue to grow. It will increase as long as the Russian aggression continues. In fact, von der Leyen quantified this Wednesday the amount of damage at 600,000 million euros. “Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for the damage and cover the costs of rebuilding the country,” he insisted.

To do this, the European Commission proposes using the almost 19,000 million euros in private assets frozen by the Member States and the 300,000 million reserves of the Central Bank of RussiaThey are blocked by the G7 countries and the EU. “In the short term we could create with our partners a structure to manage and invest these funds. Later we would use what was generated by this money and once the sanctions were lifted, these funds would be used so that Russia pays full compensation for the damages caused in Ukraine,” he added on an official basis. claims that it has never been tested. In addition, since the sanctions are temporary, eventually the assets will have to be returned to their owners, although according to Brussels they could be linked to a peace agreement and ensure that Ukraine obtains compensation for the damages. suffered.

Regarding private assets, as recognized by community technicians “there is no legal route” that allows the confiscation of frozen assets through the restrictive measures of the EU. Currently, they can only be confiscated by Member States if there is a criminal conviction, but once the link is established, they can only be confiscated by Member States. done, yeah they could be confiscated. “In other words, the assets of designated Russian persons and entities that are currently frozen could not be seized simply because they are the property of those persons and entities. A link to criminal activities would always be needed to confiscate the assets,” they explain in the document. Something feasible also given that Brussels has strengthened the legal framework proposing that the violation of sanctions become a European crime.

Leaders' Mandate

The initiative responds to the mandate given by European leaders at the last summit in late October, when they asked Brussels to present options to use frozen Russian assets to support the reconstruction of Ukraine, although community sources admit that nor will it be easy to implement nor is it something that will be able to be applied in the short term. “There will be stages in terms of negotiation and adoption of legal instruments. It is not something immediate. We are on a medium-term time horizon,” they admit.

In parallel, Brussels also ;n proposes creating a special international tribunal , under the umbrella of the United Nations, to judge the crimes of Moscow. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought untold death, devastation and suffering. We all remember the horrors of Bucha. Russia must pay for its horrible crimes, including its crime of aggression against a sovereign state,” Von der Leyen announced this in a video message broadcast on Twitter before announcing the double proposal presented this Wednesday to the permanent ambassadors of the Twenty-seven.

“We propose to create a United Nations-backed specialized court to investigate and try Russia's crime of aggression. We are ready to start working to obtain the broadest possible international support for this specialized court,” he said of an initiative They have been demanding the Baltic countries for months. According to Brussels, although it will be It is important to ensure that it does not conflict with jurisdiction with the International Criminal Court, “Under certain conditions, an ad hoc international tribunal for the crime of aggression could allow the prosecution of senior Russian leaders who would otherwise enjoy immunity.” 

For it to be created, however, a multinational treaty with great international support would have to be negotiated, although it would have more force if it were backed “with a mandate from the United Nations that It was created”, explains the Commission in the document sent to the Twenty-seven in which it recognizes that in order to force the waiving of immunities, it would have to have a “sufficiently international” character. “The presentation of a draft Security Council resolution aimed at referring the situation to the ICC or establishing an accountability mechanism is a necessary first step. Even if it is vetoed by one of the If its members are expected, this step could pave the way for other courses of action within the UN”, suggests Brussels, which also mentions the possibility of creating a hybrid, international and national court.