Putin decree outlines Russian response to any US seizure of frozen assets

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Russia will identify US property, including securities, that could be used as compensation for losses sustained as a result of any seizure of frozen Russian assets in the United States, according to a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

G7 negotiators have been discussing for weeks how to best exploit some $300 billion worth of Russian financial assets, such as major currencies and government bonds, which were frozen shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia’s ability to mete out like-for-like retaliation if Western leaders seize its frozen assets has been eroded by dwindling foreign investment, but it may go after private investors’ cash instead, officials and economists told Reuters this month.

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Thursday’s decree stated that a Russian entity can ask a Russian court to determine whether its property has been unjustifiably seized and seek compensation.

The court would then order for compensation to be transferred in the form of US assets or property in Russia from a list that would be drawn up by Russia’s government commission on foreign asset sales.

The decree listed securities, stakes in Russian companies, real estate, movable property and property rights among the US-owned assets potentially liable for seizure.

Former president Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged last month that Russia holds an insignificant amount of American state property and that any response Russia makes would be asymmetrical, focusing on private individuals’ assets.

The assets of many foreign investors, including both individuals and major US investment funds, are held in special ‘type-C’ accounts Russia introduced shortly after sending its army into Ukraine and being hit by a barrage of Western sanctions in February 2022.

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Money in those accounts cannot be transferred out of Russia without permission from Russian authorities.

Washington has passed legislation allowing President Joe Biden’s administration to confiscate Russian assets held in American banks and transfer them to Ukraine, something Russia has repeatedly called illegal.

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