Russia says EU frozen assets plan is theft, will lead to decades of lawsuits

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 2:38 PM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Wednesday said a proposal by European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to take 90% of revenues from Russian assets frozen in Europe and transfer them to buy weapons for Ukraine was “banditry and theft”.

Under Borrell’s plan, proceeds from the assets such as interest payments would go to the European Peace Facility, an off-budget fund that provides military aid to countries outside the EU and has been used mainly for Ukraine.

The Kremlin said such plans – if implemented – would destroy Europe’s reputation as a reliable guardian of property rights and lead to years of litigation.

“Europeans are well aware of the damage such decisions can do to their economy, their image, and their reputation as reliable, so to speak, guarantors of the inviolability of property,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“The damage will be inevitable. The persons who will be involved in making such decisions, the states that will decide this, of course, they will become the objects of prosecution for many decades.”

Some 70% of all Russian assets immobilised in the West are held in the central securities depository Euroclear in Belgium, which has the equivalent of 190 billion euros ($206 billion) worth of various Russian central bank securities and cash.

When asked about Borrell’s plan, Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, said: “It is simple banditry and theft.”

Zakharova said that Russia would respond if the West went ahead with confiscating Russian assets. Russia has said it will take action against Western assets if its own property is seized.

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)