EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: "Russia and its oligarchs must compensate Ukraine"
Photo: Philipp von Ditfurth / dpa
According to the EU Commission, the Russian war of aggression has already caused damage of around 600 billion euros in Ukraine.
The extent of the destruction is increasing every day, and there is still no sign of an end to the conflict.
However, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is also counting on Russian participation in post-war reconstruction.
Commission officials said frozen assets of the Russian central bank are to be used to force the country to pay reparations to Ukraine.
According to this, the release of the funds could be linked to a peace agreement that also includes Russian compensation.
In the course of the sanctions imposed on Russia, around 300 billion euros in central bank reserves have already been blocked.
Moscow announced retaliation if property belonging to the Russian state or Russian citizens is confiscated in the EU.
Von der Leyen wants to manage blocked funds
According to the EU Commission, proceeds from frozen assets should be used for reconstruction in Ukraine.
In the short term, a structure could be created to manage and invest funds blocked by sanctions, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
According to information from the EU Commission, there has also been progress on the legal basis for the expropriation of Russian oligarchs.
Circumvention of sanctions - for example when assets are transferred to third parties - was recently added to the list of EU crimes.
The Commission wants to make it easier for national authorities to confiscate yachts, helicopters, real estate and works of art from people who violate EU sanctions.
Consequences for oligarch fortunes initially unclear
It was initially unclear to what extent the frozen assets of Russian oligarchs worth almost 19 billion euros could be affected.
The regulation should not apply retrospectively.
"Russia and its oligarchs must compensate Ukraine for the damage and bear the cost of rebuilding the country," von der Leyen said.
Overall, the proposals fall short of the wishes of Ukraine.
In the past, representatives of the country had repeatedly called for assets belonging to the Russian state to be confiscated and made available to Ukraine for the country's reconstruction.
In addition to legal difficulties, political risks are also seen in Europe.
There are fears that countries like Russia and China could set up an alternative international financial system in response to expropriations.
With the current proposals, the EU Commission wants to protect both the right to property and state immunity.
The latter is a principle of international law and protects states, among other things, from the foreclosure of their deposits and assets.
Russia threatens "countermeasures"
Russia will react with "adequate countermeasures" if the assets of the Russian state or Russian citizens and companies are confiscated in the EU.
That said the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, according to the TASS agency.
On behalf of the European Commission, von der Leyen also proposed setting up a specialized court to prosecute crimes related to Russia's war against Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought death, devastation and untold suffering.
Together with partners, the EU will ensure "that Russia pays for the destruction it caused," emphasized von der Leyen.