May 01, 2022 14:54 UTC
  • Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament
    Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament

Moscow says it can seize Russian-based assets of those countries the Kremlin deems hostile, reciprocating a proposal by the United States to sell off the assets of Russian oligarchs and pay the proceeds to Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Volodin, who as the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament often voices the Kremlin’s views, made the suggestion on Sunday, four days after the US House of Representatives almost unanimously passed the Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act.

“As far as companies based in Russian territory are concerned whose owners are citizens of hostile countries and where the decision has been taken” to seize Russian assets, “it is fair to take reciprocal measures and confiscate assets,” the Duma chairman said.

Volodin’s remarks came after the White House on Thursday called on Congress to boost US authority to liquidate assets seized from Russian elites, or the “bad guys”, as American President Joe Biden calls them.

In his latest attempt to ratchet up economic pressure on Moscow to end its war and to pay for the enormous costs of defending Ukraine, Biden wants to sell off the pricy seized assets to “remedy the harm Russia caused and to help build Ukraine.”

After being approved in the House, Biden’s proposal - the so-called Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act - now goes to the Senate for approval, and if passed, it would allow Biden to confiscate and liquidate property owned by sanctioned individuals.

“And the proceeds from the sale of these assets will be used for our country's development,” Volodin further said, denouncing “a certain number of hostile countries — Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and even the United States” for flouting international law and “resorting to pure theft.”

“Today, Russian businessmen are buying foreign companies operating in Russia, and purchasing the shares of partners who want to quit our market,” Russia's most senior lawmaker further noted, calling on “hostile” countries to “act in a civilized manner and respect international law.”