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US Senators Introduce Bill to Repurpose Seized Russian Assets for Ukraine's Reconstruction

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Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of US senators rolled out legislation that would grant the federal government authority to seize the multimillion-dollar assets of sanctioned Russians in an effort to help raise funds for defence of Ukraine. The West slapped "severe" sanctions on Russia over its ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and his colleague Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced a bill to repurpose funds from the Russian assets seized by the Department of Justice's new KleptoCapture task force, the news outlet Axios reports.
Dubbed the RELIEF for Ukraine Act, which stands for Repurposing Elite Luxuries into Emergency Funds, the bill reportedly stipulates creating a relief fund to benefit Ukrainian refugees and Ukraine's reconstruction.
Portman, who is the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, argued that "right now, Ukraine is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since War World II — they need our help".
He added that "one way to help is to move from freezing the assets of Russian oligarchs and wealthy citizens to seizing their assets, and providing that funding to the people of Ukraine to help with ongoing humanitarian efforts".
Bennet, in turn, went even further by asserting that their bill "makes [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Russian oligarchs pay the price by ensuring that funds from their seized assets go directly to the Ukrainian people to support them through many difficult years ahead of resettlement, reconstruction, and recovery".
He spoke a few weeks after a bipartisan group of US senators rolled out the "Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act", which enables the US federal government to confiscate and sell off the assets of sanctioned Russians, or those tied to the Kremlin, that are valued at over $2 million.
The proposed bill also seeks to provide cash rewards to those who provide information leading to the seizure of such high-priced assets.
Republican Roger Wicker, who co-sponsored the bill, argued that the proposed legislation would directly impact Russia's "ruling class" by providing the US Department of Justice's KleptoCapture task force with "increased latitude to act swiftly in preventing the liquidation of assets by Russian oligarchs".
On 24 February, Moscow launched a special military operation in Ukraine to demilitarise and de-Nazify the country after a request for help from the Donbass republics, which saw weeks of intensifying attacks by Kiev's forces. The US and its allies responded by slapping sanctions on Moscow, which included the freezing of assets of wealthy Russian businessmen.
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