Putin signs decree to seize US assets in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Thursday allowing the confiscation of assets inside Russia belonging to the United States, its citizens, and companies. This move is aimed at compensating those affected by Western sanctions against Moscow.

The West froze approximately $300 billion of Russian financial assets, primarily central bank reserves, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In response, the U.S. Congress passed a bill last month enabling President Joe Biden to use frozen Russian assets in the United States for a special fund to support Ukraine.

The Russian decree will permit Russian companies, organizations, and individuals sanctioned by the West to apply for compensation from the Russian government. This compensation would be in the form of US-owned assets within Russia, such as real estate, companies, bank accounts, or shares.

Since the onset of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, many Western companies have exited the Russian market. Those that remain or have yet to finalize the sale of their Russian businesses now face the risk of asset seizure.

Both Moscow and Western capitals have accused each other of asset theft following the freezes. Over the past two years, Russia has taken several Western-owned businesses under “temporary” state control, actions condemned by Western leaders and companies as “nationalization”.

In Europe, where the majority of the frozen Russian assets are held, there is increasing pressure to use these assets to support Ukraine. On Thursday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged the G7 to adopt a more ambitious approach in utilizing these funds to aid Kyiv.

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