EU poised to seize Russian profits, Greek envoy says

EU poised to seize Russian profits, Greek envoy says

Ukrainians living in Greece wave Ukrainian flags during a demonstration in Thessaloniki on January 21, 2024
Ukrainians living in Greece wave Ukrainian flags during a demonstration in Thessaloniki on January 21, 2024. Photo: Sakis MITROLIDIS / AFP/File
Source: AFP

The European Union is expected to agree to seize Russian profits generated in the bloc, a key step to backing Ukraine that stops short of calls to confiscate assets outright, a Greek envoy told AFP on Monday.

Britain and the United States have led calls for the takeover of billions of dollars in Russian banking and other assets, meeting reluctance from European partners who fear that such a step will lead other countries to flee the West.

Spiros Lampridis, Greece's special national envoy for Ukraine, said the Europeans were coming to consensus on a more "subtle" approach of seizing profits from Russian investments and assets, either public or private, to set up a fund for Ukraine.

The Europeans will tell Russia "I'm not going to allow you to make profits on the capital you have accumulated on my soil, so the profits of that can be confiscated," Lampridis told AFP on a visit to Washington.

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"We're about to do it. I think it's a question of months," he said of the European Commission's decision.

Compared with an estimated 500 billion euros ($540 billion) -- or likely much more -- needed for Ukraine's reconstruction, he estimated that the move would generate 50 to 60 billion euros.

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"It's a trifle, but still, really, it's at least a move to show them -- look what you have done," he said.

"You cannot replace the lives that you have destroyed," he said of Russia, "but at least you can contribute in rebuilding what you destroyed."

Lampridis said that the more "brutal" approach of seizing Russian assets was "totally illegal" under international law.

"Practically, well, there are lots of assets of Western companies or countries in Russia itself, so you can imagine what the next step will be," he said.

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On seizing profits, "of course, the Russians will react to that as well," he said.

"But even if they take us to the international courts, I think we're going to win."

Lampridis said Greece was committed to working to repair Ukraine's economy, including in helping transport its natural gas and in transitioning to solar and other renewable energy.

Greece this month held a conference of 450 Greek and Ukrainian companies and other institutions to look at reconstruction opportunities.

He said that Greece has a "very big comparative advantage" as it has worked with other countries including Romania, Bulgaria and Balkan countries as they worked to modernize their economies and integrate with the European Union.

Source: AFP

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