EU has ‘frozen €17 billion in assets’ of Russian oligarchs and elites

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Some €17 billion in assets of Russian oligarchs and entities have been frozen in the European Union across seven member states following sanctions against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine, according to Brussels.

“So far, the assets of 90 people have been frozen, amounting to more than €17 billion in seven member states, including €2.2 billion in Germany,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told German media group Funke, including the daily Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.

At the beginning of July, Reynders put a figure of some €13.8 billion, mainly in five countries, on the freezing in the EU of assets held by oligarchs or members of the Russian elite sanctioned by the EU27.

“If it is criminal money confiscated by the EU, it can be transferred to a compensation fund for Ukraine,” the commissioner also said in the interview published on Saturday.

MEZIESBLOG learnt that Ukrainian officials are calling for these frozen assets to be used to rebuild their country after the war. “However, this amount is far from sufficient to finance reconstruction,” Reynders warned.

Western sanctions have also led to “the freezing of €300 billion” of Russian Central Bank foreign exchange reserves around the world, a sum that could be used as “collateral”, the commissioner said.

“Ukraine also wants to use this money for reconstruction. From my point of view, it is at least possible to keep these €300 billion as a guarantee until Russia voluntarily participates in the reconstruction of Ukraine,” Didier Reynders stressed.

In total, and since the 2014 invasion of Crimea, 1,236 individuals — including Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but also members of the Duma and oligarchs such as Roman Abramovich, Mikhail Fridman or Petr Aven — and 115 entities are subject to asset freezes and bans from entering the EU.