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G7 announces 'progress' on Russian frozen assets but work still to be done

by Chris York May 25, 2024 5:28 PM 2 min read
Governor of the Bank of Italy Fabio Panetta (L) and Italy's Minister of Economy and Finance Giancarlo Giorgetti (R) and Japan's Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki arrive to pose on the sidelines of the G7 Finance Ministers meeting in Stresa on May 24, 2024. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images)
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The G7 finance ministers on May 25 announced "progress" but no concrete deal on how to use future income from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters and AFP.

"We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine," the draft statement said.

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.

While the U.S. proposed seizing Russian assets outright in accordance with their recently passed REPO act, the EU has been more hesitant, fearing legal and fiscal pitfalls of confiscation.

Instead, Brussels seeks to use windfall profits generated by the frozen assets and funnel them to Kyiv.

The members of the G7 have been negotiating for weeks on the best path forward. The statement released on May 25 reiterated any progress had to be "consistent with international law and our respective legal systems."

In a press conference, Italian Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said there were still "significant technical and legal issues" to deal with but the aim is to present a proposal "defined in all its dimensions" to G7 leaders ahead of a summit in Puglia, Italy, on June 13-15.

The draft statement added that "Russia's sovereign assets in our jurisdictions will remain immobilized until Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine."

In March, the European Commission submitted a proposal on using 90% of the generated funds to purchase weapons for Ukraine and allocate the remaining 10% to the EU budget to support the country's defense industry.

The proposed measure would have allocated around 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) to Ukraine per year.

Ukraine's Justice Minister Denys Maliuska said that while it is a "good step," the figure is "almost nothing" in the context of the full-scale war.

It is unclear what the contribution from the G7 countries not in the EU- the U.K., Canada, Japan, and the U.S., would add to the $3.3 billion sum.

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