EU close to agreement on using Russian assets to help Ukraine – minister — RT World News

Moscow had previously warned that such a move would undermine “the legal foundations of European and international law.”

The European Union is “Close to a political agreement” Belgian Finance Minister Vincent Van Petegem said on Sunday that his country will confiscate profits generated by the reserves of the Russian Central Bank, which are still frozen in connection with sanctions related to Ukraine.

The West froze about $300 billion in assets owned by the Russian Central Bank after the start of hostilities in February 2022 in a move that Moscow denounced as fundamental. “theft.” About $280 billion of this amount is in the European Union, mainly in the Belgium-based depository and clearinghouse Euroclear.

While the United States and the United Kingdom have called for the complete seizure of those funds, many reports indicate that European Union countries are taking a more cautious approach, citing the lack of a legal basis for such a drastic step as well as fears of Russian retaliation.

Meanwhile, officials in the European Union are considering a plan to introduce a windfall tax on gains generated from assets. According to Eurostat, the EU's frozen reserves generated €4.4 billion ($4.7 billion) in interest income in 2023 alone. In March, a senior European Union official, as quoted by Reuters, predicted that after-tax profits of between 15 and 20 billion euros ($16 to 21 billion) would be achieved by 2027.

In the same month, the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, proposed handing over 90% of these profits to the European Peace Facility to be used to purchase weapons for Ukraine. The rest will be transferred to European Union budgets to support Kiev's defense industry.

Now, according to Petgem, EU countries appear to be close to finding common ground on this plan. The minister said, according to Bloomberg, that the first tax collection could take place as early as July 1.

However, Politico reported last month that Hungary, Slovakia, Malta and Luxembourg challenged the idea of ​​using the money to help Ukraine. While the first two countries are completely opposed to purchasing weapons for Kiev, the latter two have expressed concerns about the lack of consultation on such a long-term plan.

Moscow strongly condemned the West's efforts to use its frozen funds to support Ukraine. Commenting on Borrell's proposal last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that it could be devastating “Legal foundations of European and international law.”

He also noted that transferring Russian money to Kiev would tarnish the bloc's image and warned that those advancing the EU plan would… “He will be vulnerable to prosecution for many decades to come.”

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