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Russia warns West against seizing assets

An immediate mirror response will follow any attempts to confiscate funds, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said

The seizure of Russian assets by Western countries would be “illegal” and “extremely dangerous” for the global finance system, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned on Friday. 

The US and EU are reportedly considering using Russian assets frozen in the West to rebuild Ukraine, or even fund Kiev’s ongoing military efforts. According to the New York Times, the administration of US President Joe Biden is said to have made the latest proposal to do so as the White House struggles to greenlight a new $60 billion aid package for Ukraine.  

An estimated €260 billion ($285 billion) in Russian central bank assets was immobilized in G7 countries, the EU, and Australia following the launch of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine in February 2022, with most of the reserves being held in Europe. 

Speaking to journalists on Friday, Peskov noted that the issue of confiscating the frozen funds continued to be raised in both Europe and the US. 

“This topic is, first of all, unacceptable,” Peskov said, adding that the potential seizure of Russian assets would deal “a very serious blow to the international financial system.”

The Kremlin spokesman stressed that any country considering the move must understand that Russia would “never leave those who did this alone,” and would take wide-ranging legal steps.   

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A view of the US Capitol.
US wants $300 billion of Russian assets for Ukraine – NYT

The EU and US must also understand that the seizure of Russian assets would be followed by a proportionate response from Moscow, Peskov added. “If something is confiscated from us by someone, then we will see what we can confiscate in response. And if this something is found, we will, naturally, [confiscate] it immediately,” the spokesman said. 

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov previously issued a similar warning to the West, promising a tit-for-tat response, while State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin claimed last month that the G7’s assets in Russia were “more numerous than Russia’s frozen funds [in the West].” 

The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that a number of EU members, including France, Germany and Italy, have been “extremely cautious” over the idea of seizing Russian assets. According to the newspaper, these countries are worried that the move would be seen as “cross[ing] a line,” and may cause concern in Asia and the Middle East that sovereign assets held in Western currencies are not safe.

December 22, 2023 at 08:25PM

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