Top diplomat responds to Brussels' idea of seizing government assets
Seizing the foreign-exchange reserves of the Russian state would be an act of "complete lawlessness" and would undermine the very basis of international relations, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko has said, commenting on an idea floated by the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borell.
In a recent interview with FT, Borrell suggested seizing Russia's frozen reserves and using them to cover the costs of rebuilding Ukraine once the conflict is over. Responding to these remarks, Grushko told RIA Novosti that the EU's "appetite comes with eating" and that confiscation of the assets would be "complete lawlessness, the destruction of the very foundation of international relations."
In Grushko's opinion, such a decision, if taken, "will hit the Europeans themselves, hit the modern financial system and undermine confidence in Europe and in the West in general."
"This is the law of the jungle," he concluded.
In coming up with the idea, Borrell referred to the precedent of US President Joe Biden having set aside billions worth of the assets of Afghanistan's central bank "to be used to benefit the Afghan people."
"We have the money in our pockets, and someone has to explain to me why it is good for the Afghan money and not good for the Russian money," the EU foreign policy chief said. He added that one of the key questions the world has to answer is who will be paying the "incredible amount of money" needed for the reconstruction of Ukraine.
Since the beginning of Russian military operation in Ukraine in late February, half of Russia's international reserves, around $300 billion, have been frozen as part of the Western sanctions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow could not have foreseen this development and that the freeze, in his opinion, essentially constitutes theft.
Russia attacked its neighboring state following Ukraine's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.