The bloc's environmental leader suggested the money raised could fund more aid to Ukraine
European Commissioner Fergus Sinkevicius has proposed raising more money for Ukraine by imposing a special tax on Western companies that refuse to cut ties with Russia.
“We still have companies that do not care and remain in Russia.” Sinkevicius told Politico in an article published on Friday. “Why don't we talk about taxing them?”
Sinkevicius, a Lithuanian politician who serves as the EU's environment commissioner, warned that despite last week's approval of 50 billion euros ($54 billion) in aid for Ukraine from the European bloc, there may be a shortage of funding to help Ukraine defeat Russia. Washington, the largest Western donor to Ukraine, has spent $113 billion from previously approved aid packages, and US lawmakers are refusing to pass President Joe Biden's request for an additional $60 billion.
Sinkevicius said liquidating Russian assets or imposing taxes on companies that continue to operate in Russia are better options than relying on EU citizens to fill the financing gap. He added: “I think it is very important to find financing sources that use as little European taxpayers as possible.” He said. “We need a long-term plan here. Russia is biding its time, waiting for Europe and the United States to tire out, and for the populists to take over.
Sinkevicius made the comments while traveling to Kiev on Friday to discuss plans to make Russia pay for damage to the environment during its conflict with Ukraine. “This is not just politics – it is our pledge that Ukraine’s reconstruction will be relentless, and Russia will bear financial responsibility for the environmental devastation it has left behind.” He told Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.
The Kremlin warned on Monday that anyone seizing Russian property would face long-term consequences. Such expropriations would undermine “Foundations of the entire economic system” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to a media report regarding a proposal submitted by the Belgian government to benefit from frozen Russian assets.
More than 1,000 companies have announced the reduction of their Russian operations or complete withdrawal from the country since the Ukrainian conflict began in February 2022. Companies such as Italy's UniCredit Group, German retailer New Yorker Marketing & Media, and France's Lacoste continue to operate in Russia.