US Senators Have Plan To Seize $300 Billion Worth Of Russian Assets And Transfer To Ukraine

By on June 21, 2023 in ArticlesHow Much Does

The Russian war in Ukraine continues to rage with much of the world on the side of the latter. One recent example of that allegiance comes from a plan reported in Financial Times with bipartisan support in the United States Senate. Senators are reportedly working on a bill that would seize some $300 billion in Russian assets and transfer it to Ukraine, essentially forcing Russia to fund American aid efforts in the embattled country.

Republican Senator Jim Risch is the official filer of the bill, and he had this to say about the rationale behind it:

"Given Russia's brutality and continued war crimes against the Ukrainian people, it is only right that Russian government funds in the United States be seized and repurposed to help Ukraine win the war and rebuild its country."

The $300 billion figure comes from the amount of Russian assets that have been frozen by the US and other western countries since the start of the war. Many Russian oligarchs have seen their assets frozen due to alleged ties to the Russian invasion, and this would allow that money to go directly towards the effort in Ukraine.

But as legal expert Paul B. Stephen wrote in a Capital Markets Law Journal, such a bill would face legal hurdles even if it were signed into law by President Biden:

"The customary international law of state immunity generally protects state assets from seizure…Exceptions exist, but their scope is unclear."

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The bigger threat in that area comes from Moscow turning around and retaliating by seizing assets of western countries, a can of worms that some say is better left closed.

But back in May, a bipartisan group headed by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) put out a press release urging President Biden to such a plan:

"At this critical juncture, while each dollar could help make the difference in the outcome of the war, we urge you to use your authority to transfer the billions of dollars of Russian central bank assets frozen pursuant to U.S. sanctions to meet urgent military and humanitarian needs in Ukraine. Not only is there firm legal backing and precedent for such action, but it would also be the right thing to do."

Time will tell whether the effort actually pays off, and if Ukraine finds itself with a $300 billion windfall courtesy of the government it's fighting.

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