Russian assets for kyiv: G7 “progresses”, aims for agreement in June

Russian assets for kyiv: G7 “progresses”, aims for agreement in June
Russian assets for kyiv: G7 “progresses”, aims for agreement in June
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Keystone-SDA

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May 25, 2024 – 6:10 p.m.

(Keystone-ATS) The big financiers of the G7 meeting in Stresa in Italy noted on Saturday “progress” in their talks on the use of interests in frozen Russian assets. They laid the foundations for an agreement in mid-June at the summit of heads of state and government.

“Progress has been made,” commented the host of the meeting, the Italian Minister of the Economy Giancarlo Giorgetti, welcoming to the press “the strong political position” of all the G7 countries.

“The agreement reached is a political agreement,” declared Mr. Giorgetti, recognizing however that there remained “important technical and legal issues” to be resolved between now and the summit of leaders of the G7 countries in Puglia.

“We are making progress in our discussions on potential ways to anticipate extraordinary profits from Russian sovereign assets tied up for the benefit of Ukraine, in accordance with international law and our respective legal systems,” the ministers said according to a draft statement. final obtained by AFP.

“In the right direction”

According to them, the objective is “to present to our leaders, before the summit in Puglia in June, options to provide additional financial support to Ukraine”.

“We are moving in the right direction,” welcomed Ukrainian Finance Minister Serguiï Marchenko, interviewed by AFP. “I hope that during the leaders’ summit in June a decision will be taken,” added the minister who attended the G7 session devoted to Ukraine.

However, G7 ministers did not agree on a specific amount or mechanism to raise funds for Ukraine from future interest generated by the 300 billion euros of assets of the Central Bank of Russia frozen by the G7 and Europe.

These assets are mainly found in the European Union because 185 billion euros were frozen by Euroclear, an international fund deposit organization established in Belgium.

First step

The countries of the European Union took a first step by adopting an agreement in early May to seize income from Russia’s frozen assets in order to arm Ukraine, a windfall representing between 2.5 and 3 billion euros. per year.

The United States, however, wants to go further and has put pressure on the G7 countries to rally around a mega-loan of around $50 billion guaranteed by future interest generated by immobilized Russian assets.

But many questions to be clarified persist, such as the sharing of risk between the United States and Europe, the unknown of the evolution of interest rates or even the fact of knowing who will issue the debt. And an agreement on an amount of this magnitude still seems far away.

Mr. Giorgetti, however, was confident about the chances of reaching an agreement at the G7 summit: “there is a firm determination to find a solution”, “we must be optimistic” and “not give up in the face of to difficulties”.

In addition to the United States and Italy, which chairs the group this year, the G7 includes Japan, Canada, Great Britain, France and Germany.

The big money makers of the world’s seven richest countries have reaffirmed that Russia’s sovereign assets “will remain tied up until Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine”.

Hence the prospect that Russian assets can generate profits for a long time to come.

“Increase sanctions against Moscow”

The Biden administration’s idea is also to ensure lasting aid to Ukraine before a possible return of Donald Trump to the White House, following the November presidential election.

The United States proposed in February that the G7 countries simply seize the frozen assets, an idea which they then abandoned due to the reluctance of their allies, worried about the creation of a dangerous legal precedent and reprisals from Russia.

But even just relying on profits from Russian assets risks leading to a Russian response, fears Jean-Paule Castagno, a lawyer specializing in international law at the Orrick firm.

“To the extent that Russia considers the use of profits from fixed assets in Europe as ‘theft’, it is very likely that it will turn against Western groups still present on its national territory,” she explains. to the AFP.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already taken action by signing a decree on Thursday authorizing the confiscation in Russia of assets belonging to the United States or to people “associated” with it.

In addition to their progress on the issue of Russian assets, the G7 ministers said on Saturday they were “determined to increase financial and economic sanctions” against Moscow, in particular by “continuing to target its energy revenues”.

Echoes of the conflict in Gaza reached Stresa, where the G7 Finance called on Israel to “guarantee” banking services to Palestinian banks, to avoid blocking vital transactions in the occupied West Bank.

Finally, trade tensions with China have led the G7 to “consider taking measures” in the face of Beijing’s “overcapacity” production, which is flooding Western markets with low-cost subsidized products.

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