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Polish foreign minister proposes seizing $321 billion in frozen Russian assets

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 30, 2024 12:19 AM 2 min read
WARSAW, POLAND - 2024/06/25: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Radoslaw Sikorski speaks during a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, on June 25, 2024. (Photo by Marek Antoni Iwanczuk/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on June 29 proposed seizing all 300 billion euros ($321 billion) in frozen Russian sovereign assets to win "the escalation game" with Russia.

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 at the Belgium-based financial services company Euroclear.

While some G7 members, like the U.S., have proposed seizing Russian assets outright, the EU has been more hesitant, fearing the legal and fiscal pitfalls of confiscation. Instead, Brussels seeks to use windfall profits generated by the frozen assets and funnel them to Kyiv.

"We need to re-learn how to champion the escalation game," Sikorsky said during a lecture at the Ditchley Foundation in the U.K. "(Russian dictator Vladimir) Putin has already written them (the frozen assets) off, he does not expect to get them back. But he also doesn’t think we have the fortitude to take hold of them either. So far, we have proven him right."

According to the minister, the West's job is to prevent a wider conflict, but also to prevail.

"The Kremlin can be stopped and even beaten — we just forgot about it," he said.

"Putin will win this war unless we stop him. And we can. Contrary to its insane propaganda, Russia is not invincible. It has lost its share of wars."

In case of Russia's victory in the full-scale war against Ukraine, "chronic instability will spread around the world," fueling a global coalition of dictatorial regimes, the minister said.

Ukraine and the Group of Seven (G7) nations must create a mechanism for confiscating $300 billion in frozen Russian assets, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on June 13 during a G7 summit in Italy.

The G7 has reached an agreement to provide Ukraine with $50 billion by the end of 2024 using profits from frozen Russian assets.

Opinion: Why arguments against using Russian assets for Ukraine don’t hold water
If Ukraine is going to defeat Russia and rebuild itself after the war, it will need huge sums of money, probably exceeding what Western electorates and politicians are willing or able to provide. The good news is that there is a massive pot of non-Western money already available: the $300

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