U.S. and Europe Move Closer to Using Russian Assets to Help Ukraine

The United States and Europe are coalescing around a plan to use interest earned on frozen Russian central bank assets to provide Ukraine with a loan to be used for military and economic assistance, potentially providing the country with a multibillion-dollar lifeline as Russia’s war effort intensifies.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in an interview on Sunday that several options for using $300 billion in immobilized Russian assets remained on the table. But she said the most promising idea was for Group of 7 nations to issue a loan to Ukraine that would be backed by profits and interest income that is being earned on Russian assets held in Europe.

Finance ministers from the Group of 7 will be meeting in Italy later this week in hopes of finalizing a plan that they can deliver to heads of state ahead of the group’s leaders meeting next month. The urgency to find a way to deliver more financial support to Ukraine has been mounting as the country’s efforts to fend off Russia have shown signs of faltering.

“I think we see considerable interest among all of our partners in a loan structure that would bring forward the stream of windfall profits,” Ms. Yellen said during her flight to Germany, where she is holding meetings ahead of the Group of 7 summit. “It would generate a significant up-front amount that would help meet needs we anticipate Ukraine is going to have both militarily and through reconstruction.”

For months, Western allies have been debating how far to go in using the Russian central bank assets. The United States believes that it would be legal under international law to confiscate the money and give it to Ukraine, but several European countries, including France and Germany, have been wary about the lawfulness of such a move and the precedent that it would set.

Although the United States recently passed legislation that would give the Biden administration the authority to seize and confiscate Russian assets, the desire to act in unison with Europe has largely sidelined that idea.

Back to top button