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Bloomberg: Russia preparing legal defense to slow, prevent seizure of frozen assets

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 12, 2024 6:46 PM 2 min read
The Russian Central Bank in Moscow on April 4, 2023. Western states have frozen $300 billion in reserves belonging to the bank. (Vlad Karkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Russia is pursuing legal means, including obtaining representation from international law firms, to stymie efforts by the U.S. and its allies to seize frozen Russian assets, Bloomberg reported on Jan. 12, citing unnamed sources.

Western countries have immobilized around $300 billion of the Russian Central Bank's assets since the start of the full-scale invasion. Washington, Brussels, and Kyiv have long discussed legal ways of channeling these funds to aid Ukraine's reconstruction efforts.

Bloomberg reported on Jan. 10, citing documents it had obtained, that U.S. President Joe Biden backs legislation that would allow the confiscation of some frozen Russian funds and funneling them to Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded to the report, describing the potential seizure of assets as "illegal" and an action that will have "profound consequences," the Russian state-run news outlet Ria Novosti reported on Jan. 11.

Russian authorities still believe that the seizure of the funds is ultimately unlikely, but sources said that Russia's Central Bank has nonetheless made arrangements with international law firms in case the matter goes to court.

It is unclear where such a legal battle would occur in the event that the funds are actually seized.

A Russian legal analyst told Bloomberg that some of the possible forums could be the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (one of the most influential federal courts in the country), or the EU's Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The analyst said that any attempt to seize the assets would result in legal wrangling that could last for years, as well as a tit-for-tat confiscation of Western assets located in Russia.

Opinion: Seizing Russia’s frozen assets is the right move
As Russia’s war against Ukraine continues to wreak havoc both regionally and globally, the Ukrainian people and their allies demonstrate remarkable determination and courage. But nearly two years after Russia launched its full-scale invasion, it is increasingly clear that the international community…

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