EU’s Michel Admits Getting Hands on Frozen Russian Assets ‘Not Going to Be Easy’
© Sputnik / Ilya PitalevTen-ruble coins
© Sputnik / Ilya Pitalev/
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - European Council President Charles Michel conceded on Tuesday that drawing up a legal framework that would allow the European Union to seize frozen Russian state assets would not be an easy task.
"It’s not going to be easy because there are international and legal constraints. We need to work, but we will do so working with our G7 partners," he told a European Parliament plenary session.
The EU is estimated to hold some $300 billion of Russian central bank assets together with its G7 partners — the United States, Japan and Canada. The seven have been holding talks on how to unlock the money allegedly to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction, but Russia argues this is illegal and will ruin the West’s image as a safe haven for global money.
Michel said the European Commission should focus on a plan that would allow it to unlock profits generated by frozen Russian state assets.
"The Council has to move forward giving the Commission the task of focusing on profits so that we can make sure that this money is used for supporting Ukraine," he said in parliament.
The Financial Times daily reported over the weekend that Western countries were working on a plan that would allow them to issue debt obligations to help finance Ukraine using Russian assets as support for debt repayment.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week that the EU plan to seize Russian central bank assets was an "escalation of economic aggression" and a trade war, and warned that Russia would respond in a correspondingly harsh manner. She said that any attempt to confiscate Russian assets would be a gross violation of the West’s own law, international rules and bilateral obligations.