MOSCOW, February 11 Moscow understands that the return of its assets blocked in the West will take a long time: they have felt the taste of Russian money, the director of the first European Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Artem Studennikov.
“We understand perfectly well that the process of unlocking Russian assets will take a long time. The West has felt the taste of Russian money. It’s no secret that our funds are reinvested and serve as a good help for the budget of Belgium, which is replenished by taxing income from these amounts. And the numbers here are very impressive,” the diplomat said.
At the end of 2023, Euroclear received a profit of 4.4 billion euros from the reinvestment of frozen Russian assets, Studennikov noted, for 2022 – 821 million euros.
“”Taking into account corporate tax, the Belgian budget will receive 1.085 billion euros, which will then be redistributed and taken into account as assistance to Ukraine. As they say, any whim is for your money,” he indicated.
“We are closely monitoring all these processes and observing the attempts of representatives of the collective West, by hook or by crook, to adjust the legal framework for the confiscation of Russian immobilized funds. Such attempts represent banal theft with detrimental consequences for global finance and the investment sphere,” the diplomat emphasized.
Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov in an interview, speaking about the possibility of transferring Russia's frozen assets to Kyiv, stated that the United States and Europe, once appropriating what does not belong to them, will lose the trust of the owners. He noted that the confiscation of property, arrests of aircraft, property, sanctions against Russian businessmen demonstrate the collapse of the sanctity of private property in the West and the danger of doing business there. Russian Foreign Ministry official Maria Zakharova called the freezing of Russian assets in Europe theft, noting that the EU is targeting not just private funds, but also Russian state assets.
On January 29, the permanent representatives of the EU countries preliminary agreed on the European Commission's proposal on the use of income from Russian assets frozen in EU countries. Official approval of this decision is expected at a meeting of permanent representatives on Thursday, February 8. As European diplomats explained, the EC at this stage proposes to store the income received from Russia’s frozen assets in special accounts for their possible use in the future to finance Ukraine. So far there is no talk of transferring these funds to the EU budget or directly to Ukraine. The mechanism for transferring funds has not yet been developed.
After the start of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, Western countries introduced a number of harsh sanctions against Russia, including freezing approximately half of the country’s foreign exchange reserves – about $300 billion.
Last year, Belgium announced the creation of a €1.7 billion “Ukraine support fund” using proceeds from frozen Russian assets. Brussels plans to transfer to Ukraine all funds received from taxation of profits from Russian assets, these funds will be used for the purchase of weapons, humanitarian aid, to finance the EU civilian mission for Ukraine, and also as macro-financial assistance. In December, Belgium also announced that it would allocate 611 million euros to help Ukraine in 2024 from the proceeds received from frozen Russian assets.
The European Central Bank previously warned that Europe's use of frozen Russian assets to finance Ukraine could pose reputational risks for the European currency in the long term. They called on Brussels to “look beyond this separate conflict” and look for other ways to finance Ukraine. The Belgian depositary Euroclear, which holds the bulk of Russian assets previously frozen due to EU sanctions, also said that it is preparing to counter the negative consequences due to the European Commission's desire to use the proceeds from these funds to restore Ukraine.
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