The UK wants to follow the example of Canada and seize the assets of Russians in the UK in order to give them to Ukraine, Liz Truss has said.
It comes as the foreign secretary is due to give a speech on Monday to a Ukraine reconstruction conference in Lugano, Switzerland, which will be attended either in person or virtually by most of Ukraine’s senior political leadership.
It is estimated that more than 120,000 homes in Ukraine have been destroyed during the Russian invasion, creating the need for billions in income to restore the country economically and make it a Europe-faced economy.
Truss told MPs last week she was supportive of the idea that the government could seize frozen Russian assets in the UK and redistribute them to victims of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
She said: “I am supportive of the concept. We are looking at it very closely. The Canadians have in fact just passed legislation This is an issue that we are working on jointly with the Home Office and the Treasury, but I certainly agree with the concept. We just need to get the specifics of it right.”
She said the initiative would “most probably” need legislation but not necessarily.
The funds seized could be supplied either to individuals in a form of reparations or to the Ukrainian state. At present the UK can suspend Russian assets under the Economic Crime Act for 56 days and roll over the suspension for a further 56 days. In that period the owner of the asset cannot benefit from the asset in any way.
In her speech to the conference, Truss will claim the UK will position itself as Ukraine’s key partner in the recovery process and claim it has already offered $1.5bn to the country through multilateral loan guarantees and more than £100m in bilateral support.
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