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Von der Leyen urges Europe to use windfall profits of frozen Russian assets to buy weapons for Ukraine

by Kateryna Hodunova February 28, 2024 5:12 PM 2 min read
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Sept. 13, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged members of the European Parliament "to start a conversation about using the windfall profits of frozen Russian assets to jointly purchase military equipment for Ukraine."

"There could be no stronger symbol and no greater use for that money to make Ukraine and all of Europe a safer place to live," Von der Leyen said during a speech at the European Parliament on Feb. 28.

Western countries and other partners immobilized around $300 billion of the Russian Central Bank's assets at the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

Debates over the legality of channeling these funds into Ukraine's reconstruction have prevented allies from transferring the money, but ongoing delays in U.S. military aid have prompted heightened urgency.

"The cost of insecurity – the cost of a Russian victory – is far greater than any saving we could make now. This is why it is time for Europe to step up," Von der Leyen said.

Earlier, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also said that unblocking frozen Russian Central Bank assets and diverting those funds to aid Ukraine is "necessary and urgent."

The European Union on Feb. 12 announced a new set of measures targeting profits from frozen assets belonging to the Russian Central Bank.

EU agrees on new measures to isolate frozen Russian funds
The European Council said on Feb. 12 that central securities depositaries (CSDs) holding more than 1 million euros ($1.07 million) in assets from the Russian Central Bank must separate any profits generated from the primary accounts.
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