May 23, 2024

Russia passes decree to allow seizure of US assets



Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a decree allowing the confiscation of assets inside Russia belonging to the United States, its citizens and companies, to compensate those hit by Western sanctions against Moscow.

The West froze around $300 billion of Russian financial assets, mostly its central bank reserves, after Moscow ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

And the US Congress last month passed a bill that would allow President Joe Biden to use frozen Russian assets in the United States for a special fund to support Ukraine.

The Russian decree will give Russian companies, organisations and individuals that have been hit by sanctions the right to apply for compensation from the Russian government.

The compensation would come in the form of US-owned assets — such as real estate, companies, bank accounts or shares — based in Russia.

Many Western companies have left Russia since it launched its offensive on Ukraine.

Those that remain — or have yet to finalise sales of their Russian businesses — could now be at risk of having their assets seized.

Both Moscow and Western capitals have traded accusations of stealing each other’s property over the asset freezes.

Russia has taken a number of Western-owned businesses under “temporary” state control in the past two years — acts decried by Western leaders and companies as “nationalisation”.

In Europe, where the vast majority of the frozen Russian assets are located, pressure is ramping up over how to use them to support Ukraine.

On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for the G7 to be more “ambitious” in how it can use the funds to help Kyiv.