Espreso. Global

How to handle Russian financial assets frozen in the West?

1 December, 2023 Friday

As the US Congress blocks aid to Ukraine, the issue of confiscating Russian financial assets in the US and Europe is becoming increasingly relevant

The adoption of such a historic decision by the collective West would dramatically reduce the tension of waiting for the long-awaited financial assistance to Ukraine and could significantly speed up the country's path to victory.

The arguments of opponents of such confiscation of Russian assets are that such an operation is illegal. And it could, among other things, undermine the very basis of guaranteeing the inviolability of deposits placed in accounts in other countries.

However, if we analyze this issue from various legal perspectives of international law, can the Russian Federation's invasion of another state be considered actions that comply with international law? And on this basis, any disputes over the legality of the transfer of frozen assets to Russia begin to lose their meaning.

Another argument for refusing to transfer Russian assets to Ukraine is that in this case, the world stage will become a territory of uncontrolled anarchy that will exclude any international laws and rules. However, can Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine be considered legitimate and legal? This is where we need to start.

The decision at hand is whether to utilize Moscow's frozen assets to support Ukraine in its resistance against the invaders, potentially leading to a significant reduction in the duration of the war and the preservation of many Ukrainian lives. Alternatively, there is the option of withholding these funds from Russia forever, given Russia's reluctance to adhere to the demands of the democratic world. What good are these funds if, in the latter scenario, they will never be returned to totalitarian Russia?

Today, Russian assets in Europe amount to $300 billion and $39 billion in the United States. Europeans are still hesitant about confiscating this Moscow money. If America passes a law allowing the seizure and confiscation of Russian financial assets, it would mean that such actions would become legal in the United States, which would undermine all the arguments of their opponents and, accordingly, push the states of the European continent to adopt similar laws.

By waging war in Ukraine, the Russian Federation has violated all the existing rules set out by the international community for the peaceful coexistence of countries with different political systems and socio-economic structures. It is now a rogue state with all the consequences that automatically follow. Therefore, all means necessary to stop its aggression in Ukraine can be considered legitimate. The Russian Federation and its population, which actively or passively supported Putin's so-called "special military operation," must pay a high price for their aggression, greed, and immorality.

The confiscation of Russia's billions abroad can be compared to fighting fire with fire. Confiscating them and redistributing them to help Ukraine defend its independence and sovereignty is a defense of the most important issue of our time - democracy. It is also an opportunity to stop the genocide of the 40 million Ukrainian people, which could lead to the outbreak of World War III. By providing Ukrainians with the means for a national liberation war against the Moscow colonizers, the United States and Europe are also protecting their national security.

On this basis, Ukraine should receive all Russian assets seized in the West. When someone sets fire to their neighbor's house, they should be held accountable, not the neighbor who was attacked. The Russian Federation started its illegal war, and it must pay in full for all the evil and suffering it has brought to Ukrainians.

Ukraine is defending itself against a genocidal war, ethnic cleansing and Moscow's occupation of its lands. Supplying weapons, ammunition, training Ukrainian soldiers, and providing intelligence to Ukraine to support our resistance to the insidious invaders are doing their extremely important and useful work. However, now is the time to turn the tide by providing Ukraine with the financial assistance it needs.

After all, no matter what Putin and his puppets say that international law prohibits the use of frozen funds, after Russian terrorist forces destroyed the first residential building, hospital, kindergarten, school, market or train station in Ukraine, this prohibition ceased to exist for Russia. These crimes against humanity do not and cannot have a statute of limitations. And those who commit genocide must bear full legal and financial responsibility.

The confiscation of Russian assets located in the West could be legally defined as "prepaid reparations." If done now, it will help Russia in the future to reduce its overall debt that it will have to pay to Ukraine in the form of reparations or other types of compensation for all the terrible atrocities the Putin regime committed in Ukraine.

If a quick agreement is not reached on the transfer of confiscated Russian financial assets to Ukraine, another option is available. International banks that currently hold the assets of the Russian Federation can use this money to provide the Ukrainian state with targeted long-term interest-free loans. The repayment terms of which will not be precisely defined in advance. And in the future, these amounts may be deducted from the amount of reparations charged by the Russian Federation.

All the property of Russian nouveau riche that can be found in Europe and America should also be confiscated. This includes airplanes, helicopters, yachts, sports teams, cars, paintings, and other works of art. All of this can be sold at auctions, and the proceeds can be transferred to Ukraine to liberate the occupied parts of Eastern and Southern Ukraine and Crimea. And this should be done right now, without delay.

Russia has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, murder of children, and infliction of various kinds of physical and psychological trauma. Women, even pregnant women in maternity hospitals, children, including infants in cribs and strollers, and the elderly have been deliberately targeted by Russians to kill and bring chaos to the Ukrainian lands they occupy.

The Russian Federation has deliberately and methodically attacked and destroyed hospitals, schools, homes, shops, entire neighborhoods and all other forms of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. Even the basic damage today is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars, but the full cumulative cost of the damage, including civilian deaths, abductions of children, disabilities due to various kinds of injuries, loss of economic viability, and the subsequent costs of rebuilding Ukraine's infrastructure, is likely to be in the trillions of dollars.

We should not forget that Russia conducted its "military operations" in Ukraine as a terrorist organization. Documentary evidence of Russia's cruelty and boundlessness is growing every day. There have been documented cases of rape, torture, and the use of illegal munitions such as phosphorus bombs against civilians. In a just world, such behavior, which is synonymous with terrorism, should expose Russia and its assets to the full range of countermeasures used to paralyze the activities of other terrorist organizations.

Outlaw regimes like Russia's must learn a hard lesson and then make their choice: behave as prescribed by international law, not commit war crimes and participate in the international financial system, or continue their terrorist activities and become a second North Korea, where the economy is based on extra-economic rules.

A comprehensive offensive against the Putin regime should include further confiscation of ski chalets and hotels in Switzerland and France that have fallen into the ownership of Russian oligarchs, penthouses in New York and Los Angeles, and luxury estates in California and Florida. Those who support Putin's war in Ukraine must fully experience its consequences personally.

And as long as Russia's war with Ukraine continues, Russians should be denied the opportunity to receive medical treatment in Germany, Switzerland or France, to visit the European Union, the United States and all other democratic countries. Let them rest and shop in Venezuela, Iraq, and North Korea. 

The use of Russian confiscated funds to finance the defense of Ukraine against Putin is justified. It is necessary to use all visible and invisible tools to respond to the blow that Putin has dealt to the global security system, which had previously operated successfully for many decades.


About the author. Viktor Kaspruk, journalist

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the authors of blogs.

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