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EU to send €1.4bn in Russian money to Ukraine – Borrell

The proceeds from the frozen central bank assets will be used for military assistance to Kiev, according to the bloc’s foreign policy chief

FILE PHOTO: EU High Representative Josep Borrell © Getty Images / Anadolu / Contributor

The EU has approved the transfer of €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) in profits from Russia’s frozen assets as military assistance to Ukraine, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell announced on Monday.

The statement was made at a press conference following a meeting of EU Council foreign ministers.

Western nations have frozen around $300 billion in Russian sovereign assets over the Ukraine conflict, around $280 billion of which is immobilized in the EU. 

“The ministers today agreed on the legal framework for the allocation of the windfall profits from immobile Russian assets to the European peace facility. The windfall profits coming from Russian assets frozen in Europe, not the assets itself, will be used in the swiftest possible manner for the benefit of Ukraine,” Borrell said, noting that the €1.4 billion will be available over the next month, while another €1 billion will be forthcoming by the end of the year.

The money will be used to purchase air defense systems and ammunition for Ukraine, as well as support the country’s defense industry, according to Borrell.

Brussels’ proposal to seize the interest earned on the Russian assets to acquire weapons for Ukraine emerged earlier this year. However, the move faced resistance from Hungary, a vocal critic of the West’s approach to the Ukraine conflict and its arms shipments to Kiev in particular.

READ MORE: Western property could be seized – Moscow

Borrell noted on Monday that Hungary cannot block the use of profits from the Russian assets for Ukraine, since it did not participate in the decision.

“We understand that, legally, since one member state didn’t participate in the decision to use these [immobilized] assets, it has not the right to participate in deciding to which purposes [the money] is allocated,” Borrell said, without providing further explanation.

“Work will now speed up without having this blockage,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto stated: “New billions for Ukraine. This time by kicking up the European rules and leaving out Hungary.” 

Szijjarto also slammed fellow EU members in a post on social media, saying: “This is a clear red line, there was no example of such a shameless breach of common European rules before.” 

The idea of seizing the frozen Russian assets has been debated by EU lawmakers and the bloc’s allies for about two years. Some top officials have warned that such a drastic move could undermine investor confidence in the EU’s financial system.

Russia has denounced the decision to transfer the profits from its assets to Ukraine as a blatant and illegal “expropriation.” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow has a “wide arsenal” of political and economic countermeasures it can use to respond to any confiscation of its sovereign assets.


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