The West should confiscate Russian assets

Dilbar is one of the largest superyachts in the world. The 512-foot ship weighs almost 16,000 tons and has a swimming pool, two helipads, a sauna, a beauty salon and a gym. According to the US Treasury, he is worth around £650m.

In April, after Russia illegally invaded my country, German authorities seized Dilbar while it was docked in Hamburg.

They decided to act because the owner is Alisher Usmanov, a Russian oligarch once considered the richest person in the UK.

After the invasion, Mr Usmanov, who was a co-owner of football club Arsenal, was placed on Western sanctions lists because of his close ties to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. The US Treasury said his ties to the Kremlin “enrich him and enable his luxurious lifestyle”.

It is not yet known what will become of Dilbar. Legions of lawyers would now be involved.

But for Ukraine it is very clear.

The superyacht and all of its 1,000 sofa cushions are set to be confiscated from Mr Usmanov for its links to a Russian regime that raped, tortured and murdered Ukrainians in an unprovoked war that tilted the world on its axis .

The proceeds of the sale must be immediately transferred to the people of Ukraine, who have suffered a flagrant violation of international peace and security.

Selling Dilbar’s £650m could help support the 13m Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homes since the Russian invasion.

This could help support the 4.8 million Ukrainian jobs that were lost during the war, or 30% of our total workforce.

It could also help support the more than six million people in Ukraine who struggle every day to access clean water.

But it is not only the German authorities who can act on Mr. Usmanov.

Canada leads the way against Russian oligarchs

Our friend Boris Johnson may also pass new laws to confiscate his vast UK property empire, which is believed to include Beechwood House in north London, worth an estimated £48million, and the 16th century Sutton Place estate in Surrey , worth an estimated £34 million. . He reportedly placed them in trusts earlier this year, but we would say he still holds them.

The well-paid Western facilitators employed by these kleptocrats will no doubt argue that property is a fundamental right that has underpinned mature democracies for centuries.

Unfortunately for them, one of the most advanced economies on the planet has already shown the way.

Canada has recognized that Ukraine, and the world, are facing a new era that requires new and innovative solutions. Last month, its parliament passed groundbreaking laws allowing the freezing and confiscation of Russian assets located in Canada.

They may then be transferred to assist in the “reconstruction of a foreign state… adversely affected by a gross violation of international peace and security”.

In announcing the law, Chrystia Freeland, the country’s finance minister, made no secret of her motivation.

“We think it’s really important to expand our legal powers because it’s going to be really, really important to find the money to rebuild Ukraine,” she said. “I can think of no more appropriate source of this funding than the confiscated Russian assets.”

Ukraine welcomes the courageous decision of the Canadian Parliament. We also call on other Western leaders, including Canada’s G7 partners, to adopt the same laws.

We will discuss this and other potential measures on Monday at an international conference on the economic reconstruction of post-war Ukraine in Switzerland, where we will call for a new Marshall Plan.

Our need is substantial. The Russian invasion caused a massive disruption of economic activity. Damage from the destruction of roads, bridges and livelihoods currently stands at £100billion and growing. When the guns fall silent, the World Bank estimates the final bill could reach £1 trillion.

Amid Carnage and Trauma, Hope Remains

Yet, amid the carnage and trauma, hope remains. If Ukraine receives the same global financial support as Germany after World War II, then we can use this terrible conflict as a unique opportunity. Not just to recover war damage, but to boost economic growth and quality of life in Ukraine.

The Marshall Plan triggered a post-war economic boom in Germany. The same can happen in Ukraine. By joining the European Union, we can also integrate Ukraine into global value chains and information networks.

In many ways, we are starting from a position of strength. Ukraine already has strong industries spanning defence, metals, machinery, energy, agriculture and technology.

We just need our friends and allies to lend a hand. And at an estimated value of £234 billion, the Bank of Russia’s reserves, currently frozen in Western accounts, would be a good start.

Andriy Yermak is the head of the office of the President of Ukraine.

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