The UK wants to follow Canada’s lead and seize Russian assets in the UK to give to Ukraine, Liz Truss said.
It comes as the foreign minister is due to deliver a speech on Monday at a Ukraine reconstruction conference in Lugano, Switzerland, which will be attended in person or virtually by most of Ukraine’s top political leaders.
It is estimated that more than 120,000 homes in Ukraine were destroyed during the Russian invasion, creating the need for billions in revenue to restore the country economically and turn it into a European-oriented economy.
Truss told MPs last week that she supported the idea that the government could seize Russian assets frozen in the UK and redistribute them to victims of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
She said: “I support the concept. We are looking at it very closely. Canadians have actually just legislated. This is something we are working on jointly with the Home Office and the Treasury, but I certainly agree with the concept. We just need to fully understand the details. »
She said the initiative would “most likely” need legislation, but not necessarily.
The seized funds could be provided either to individuals in the form of reparations or to the Ukrainian state. Currently, the UK can suspend Russian assets under the Economic Crimes Act for 56 days and extend the suspension for another 56 days. During this period, the owner of the asset cannot benefit from the asset in any way.
In his speech to the conference, Truss will say the UK will position itself as Ukraine’s key partner in the recovery process and will say it has already offered $1.5 billion to the country through guarantees multilateral loans and over £100 million in bilateral support.
She will say: “The recovery of Ukraine from Russia’s war of aggression will be a symbol of the power of democracy over autocracy. This will show [Vladimir] Putin that his attempts to destroy Ukraine have only produced a stronger, more prosperous and more united nation.
“The UK is resolute in its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and will stand by Ukraine as it emerges as a strong, thriving and forward-thinking democracy. We led support for Ukraine during the war and will continue to lead support for the Ukrainian government’s reconstruction and development plan.
The Foreign Office said: ‘Humanitarian aid and mine clearance programs will help rebuild villages, towns and cities, and in the longer term the UK will share its economic and financial expertise to transform the Ukraine into a global hub for investment, business and cutting-edge technology. Technology. The UK will champion the takeover of Kyiv City and Kyiv Region, as requested by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. »
In practice, the extent of reconstruction will depend on the outcome and duration of the war, and whether eastern Ukraine – where the worst damage has been – is returned to Kyiv or remains in the hands of Kyiv. of the Russians.
It is estimated that around 6.4 million Ukrainians have left the country, while another 6-7 million citizens have left their homes and settled in western Ukraine. The cost of the war is estimated at $1 billion if it lasts until the end of the year. The International Monetary Fund has estimated Ukraine’s balance of payments gap through June at around 14.3 billion euros ($15 billion).
One of the objectives of the conference will be to outline a vision of a Ukrainian economy coherent with Europe, offering specialties in the sectors of agriculture, renewable energies and technology. One of the most sensitive issues will be a deoligarchization agenda and how to establish strong anti-corruption institutions at a time when large flows of money from the United States and Europe are likely.