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Washington is working to push harsher restrictions on banks with ties to Russia and crack down on those evading current rules, the U.S. State Department’s Sanctions Coordination Office head James O’Brien told Reuters.
“We have immobilized about 80% of the assets in the Russian banking sector,” O’Brien said. “We are looking at additional banks and financial institutions to see how Russia deals with the outside world. It is very possible that there will be more action.”
After Russia launched its full-scale war against Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the West blocked several Russian banks’ access to the global SWIFT payments system.
On Feb. 14, it was announced that an EU working group led by the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be exploring the possibility of using frozen Russian assets to aid in post-war Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts.
On Jan. 26, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources, that the EU has the “legal authority” to use at least 33.8 billion euros of frozen assets of Russia’s central bank for the reconstruction of Ukraine.
The EU Council Legal Service said such a plan is “legally feasible, as long as the assets aren’t expropriated and certain conditions are met," according to Bloomberg.