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Borrell says Russian reserves should be seized and used to rebuild Ukraine

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The European Union‘s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, says the bloc should consider seizing the frozen assets from Russia‘s foreign exchange reserves and using them to help fund postwar reconstruction efforts in Ukraine, according to RFERL.

Borrell told the Financial Times in an interview published on Monday that the move would be similar to what Washington did with the Afghan central bank’s assets following the return of the Taliban to power in the war-torn country.

In March, Russia said sanctions against it over the war had frozen around $300 billion of assets — around half of its total gold and foreign exchange reserves — held by Russia’s central bank abroad.

“The European Commission has said the reconstruction price tag could run into hundreds of billions of euros, and EU capitals should consider seizing frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves to help pay for the cost of rebuilding Ukraine after the war,” Borrell was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

“We have the money in our pockets, and someone has to explain to me why it is good for the Afghan money and not good for the Russian money,” Borrell added.

After the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden froze the roughly $7 billion in central bank assets that the now-defunct Western-backed government in Kabul had on deposit at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

In February, the White House said it plans to use half of the assets, currently frozen on U.S. soil, for humanitarian aid and set aside the rest to possibly satisfy lawsuits over the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Borrell said such a move was one of a number of ways in which Russia could be made to pay „war compensations” for the unprovoked invasion it launched against its neighbor on February 24.

“This is one of the most important political questions on the table: Who is going to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine?” he said.