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UK to prolong sanctions until Russia pays for Ukraine's reconstruction

by Martin Fornusek June 19, 2023 4:06 PM 2 min read
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The U.K. plans to use sanctions and asset freezing to make Russia pay for Ukraine's reconstruction, as stated in a British government press release obtained by the Kyiv Independent on June 19.

The planned package of measures will enable London to keep sanctions in place by amending their purpose. Their newly stated aim will be to promote compensation payments from Russia to Ukraine.

"Putin's Russia must take financial responsibility for the wanton devastation it has wrought on Ukraine," Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said.

"These new measures - on top of our largest sanctions package – show the U.K. is ready and able to clear new paths to ensure Russian money reaches Ukrainian people."

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Another measure will allow sanctioned Russians to release their frozen funds for Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction.

This will be a completely voluntary process. The press release informed that the individuals will not be coerced into doing so. They will not receive any sanctions relief in exchange for donations.

London also prepares legislation making all the holders of Russian state assets – including those of the Central Bank of Russia, the Russian Finance Ministry, and the Russian National Wealth Fund – disclose them to the U.K. government.

According to the press release, this should allow the British government to "tighten the net on those hiding assets in the U.K." and counter the evasion of sanctions.

Western countries have frozen around $300 billion of Russia's Central Bank assets since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Some U.S. lawmakers wish to seize and transfer these funds to Ukraine for reconstruction.

Critics have pointed out the legal pitfalls of this move, as sovereign assets are covered by "sovereign immunity" – an understanding that one state will not seize another's property. Seizing sovereign assets may create a dangerous precedent elsewhere in the world.

The European Union, in turn, considers sending the money generated through financial operations with the frozen assets to Kyiv, rather than the assets themselves.

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