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Frozen Russian reserves should go to Ukraine, says Borrell

EU foreign policy chief calls for money to be used to rebuild Ukrainian cities

The head of the European Union’s foreign policy, Josep Borrell, said the bloc’s countries should consider seizing frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves to finance Ukraine’s reconstruction. Western countries have imposed restrictions on the Russian Central Bank’s international reserves as part of the war sanctions.

In an interview with Financial Times Published on Monday (May 9, 2022), Borrell mentioned that the United States did something similar in Afghanistan by allocating billions of dollars in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank to compensate victims of terrorism and for humanitarian actions.

We got the money in our pockets and someone has to explain to me why [a ação] is good with afghan money and not good with russian money,” Borrell said.

Russia said in March that $300 billion of its international reserves had been frozen as a result of sanctions. The value would be almost half of the total, estimated at US$ 640 billion.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Monday that the measure proposed by Borrell represents a “complete illegality”. To the Russian news agency RIA, Grushko said the action will be “a blow to Europeans themselves, to the modern financial system, and will undermine confidence in Europe and the West in general”.

EUROPE DAY

In message to mark Europe Day, celebrated every 9th of May, Borrell spoke about “the speed with which the Union adopted financial and economic sanctions against Russia in coordination with G7 partners”. He also highlighted the support given by bloc countries to Ukraine.

Even though Ukraine is not a Member State of the European Union, it is a very close partner, with whom we have the most comprehensive association agreement and whose European vocation is undeniable.”, he declared, adding that the bloc had already disbursed more than €1.5 billion in aid to Ukrainians.

This European contribution is linked to direct military support from the Member States. It is further proof that, far from restricting the Member States, the union multiplies the power of each of them.“, said.

The head of EU diplomacy also commented on the bloc’s determination to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

By collectively working to end Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, the EU shows that it is stronger in the sum of its parts than when Member States act alone.“, he said. “Not only is it a stronger player in the international energy market, it also limits the exposure of its Member States to energy blackmail. This will enhance the EU’s strategic resilience.

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