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Estonian president approves law allowing use of frozen Russian assets for Ukraine

by Kateryna Hodunova May 30, 2024 3:42 PM 2 min read
Alar Karis, Estonia's president, speaks during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, US, on Sept. 20, 2023. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Estonian President Alar Karis promulgated on May 30 a law that allows the use of frozen Russian assets for funding Ukraine's war efforts and reconstruction, according to the Presidential Office's website.

The Estonian government estimated in October 2023 that it held about 38 million euros ($41.3 million) of frozen Russian assets.

Estonia's parliament, the Riigikogu, passed the bill on May 15 despite some experts disagreeing with it because it supposedly conflicted with the country's Constitution.

"Although the chosen method of compensation is innovative, it aims to protect the prohibition of aggression as a fundamental rule of international law," Karis said in a statement.

"This was one of my messages when I promulgated the 'Act on Amendments to the International Sanctions Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts' adopted two weeks ago in the Riigikogu."

Property can only be used to compensate for damage if an unlawful act or aiding such act has been identified and sufficiently proven, according to the law.

If the assets have been frozen because of international sanctions, this is not sufficient for the transfer of property, the president added.

Karis said that the law should be interpreted to apply to those who actively participated in committing military aggression or violating the rules of war.

The president added that such confiscation of property "creates unresolved legal issues" but called on the parliament to make "policy choices in such an ambiguous situation."

"Regardless of what one thinks of the solution chosen in Estonia, there is no doubt that we need to find effective ways to guarantee the right of victims of aggression to obtain compensation from the perpetrators of the damage," he said.

G7 announces ‘progress’ on Russian frozen assets but work still to be done
Ukraine’s Western partners and other allies froze around $300 billion in Russian assets at the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022. Roughly two-thirds are held in the Belgium-based financial services company Euroclear.
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