Freeland Says It’s ‘Entirely Appropriate’ To Use Seized Russian Assets To Rebuild Ukraine

Ottawa is currently creating a legal framework for the seizure of Russian assets

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Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Ukraine needs financial support to rebuild itself in light of the war, and Russia should foot the bill.

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“Ukraine’s financial needs are huge, the reconstruction needs are huge, and it is entirely appropriate that the aggressor help pay for that reconstruction,” Freeland told reporters who called him from Munich, Germany, on May 20.

The comments followed a G7 meeting in which Freeland and his counterparts from the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy agreed to $9.5 billion in Ukraine, raising the total that the seven democratic powers have pledged since. the invasion of Russia in February. to about $20 billion, according to Reuters.

Freeland said that the Canadian government is creating a legal framework for the seizure of Russian assets and suggested that those assets could be sold to finance Ukraine’s reconstruction.

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“When we look at the enormous cost of rebuilding Ukraine, what is the best source of financing?” the minister said. “Should the devastated people of Ukraine themselves pay those costs? Should Canadians pay those costs? I think it’s entirely appropriate that those costs be paid in part, at least, by these Russian assets.”

Asked if he felt the seizure and sale of Russian assets constituted theft, Freeland responded that there was a strong moral and practical justification for Ukaine’s allies to claim the assets, but added that Canada would have to proceed “with care and consideration.” “.

By creating asset forfeiture legislation, “Canada has an opportunity here to lead by example and show what can be done,” Freeland said.

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Defend the Bank of Canada

Freeland went on to announce an additional $250 million loan from Canada to Ukraine, to be administered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The loan brings the total aid provided by Canada to $1.9 billion.

“To win the war, Ukraine urgently needs more financial support from the world’s democracies,” he said.

The loan announcement followed G7 talks among world leaders in Bonn, Germany, on global issues including climate change, inflation and post-pandemic economic recovery. Despite low unemployment rates implying a successful fight against the severe recession that followed the first waves of the pandemic, economists have begun to worry about a second recession as runaway energy and food prices weigh about spending.

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“It is clear to all of us that we are living through a period of global volatility. we have covid. we have the russian invasion of ukraine. We have China’s zero COVID policy,” Freeland said.

He was asked by a reporter for his opinion on inflation in Canada, which has hit a three-decade high, prompting the leader of the Conservative Party to promise to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada.

Freeland defended the central bank, saying, “In this environment, responsible political leadership means reinforcing for Canadians and for the world our government’s very clear commitment to the independence of the Bank of Canada and our confidence in the Bank of Canada.”

Marshall Plan for Ukraine

But the minister’s main concern was the situation in Ukraine. Freeland said she and her counterparts “discussed at some length” the seizure of Russian assets and their use to help pay for reconstruction.

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“The G7 countries are determined to continue to target the ill-gotten gains of Russian elites around the world through the Task Force of Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs, which is a major government initiative,” Freeland said. .

The working group was established in March by members of the G7, the European Union and Australia. The ministers committed to “prioritize our resources and work together to take all legal measures available to find, restrain, freeze, seize and, where appropriate, confiscate or forfeit the assets of those individuals and entities that have been sanctioned in relation to with Russia. premeditated, unjust and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”.

Despite the task force and other efforts by the international community to fight Russian aggression, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on May 17 that she was disappointed in the support that had been offered to Russia. Ukraine to date.

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“Eventually, Ukraine will need massive support and private investment for reconstruction and recovery, similar to the reconstruction task in Europe after 1945,” he said, referring to the Marshall Plan, a $12 billion package organized by the US to rebuild Europe after 1945. World War II.

“Ukraine will have to take one step at a time, but we can help today and recognize and prepare for what is coming,” Yellen said before the G7 meeting. “What is clear is that the bilateral and multilateral support announced so far will not be enough to address Ukraine’s needs, even in the short term.”

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