US approves transfer of seized assets from sanctions-hit oligarch to Ukraine

The US has for the primary time transferred seized property from a sanctions-hit Russian oligarch to ship to Ukraine for the reconstruction of the war-ravaged nation.

The authorisation got here on Wednesday from attorney-general Merrick Garland, who mentioned extra strikes of this type can be forthcoming. “Whereas this represents the USA’ first switch of forfeited Russian funds for the rebuilding of Ukraine, it won’t be the final,” he mentioned in an announcement.

The transfer comes amid a rising debate amongst Ukraine’s allies within the west and around the globe in regards to the extent to which seized Russian property can be utilized to fund a large reconstruction effort that’s anticipated to kick into excessive gear if and when the battle ends.

The step taken by Garland stems from final yr’s indictment of Konstantin Malofeyev, a Russian investor and founding father of a pro-Putin media empire, who was accused of breaching sanctions imposed in response to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The attorney-general mentioned tens of millions of {dollars} had been seized “from an account at a US monetary establishment traceable to Malofeyev’s sanctions violations”. In February, following a gathering with Ukraine’s prosecutor-general Andriy Kostin, Garland had authorised using the funds “in Ukraine to remediate the harms of Russia’s unjust battle”.

On Wednesday, he mentioned the cash was transferred to the US state division and can be “devoted to that objective”.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, US and western officers have debated to what extent they may use seized Russian property to assist Ukraine. Final yr President Joe Biden enacted a legislation that facilitated that course of in Washington.

It was unclear precisely how the property transferred on this case will likely be utilized by Ukraine or when they are going to be out there to Kyiv. Nevertheless it represents an necessary second in Washington’s financial response to the battle, simply as G7 finance ministers ready to assemble in Japan for a gathering forward of the leaders summit in Hiroshima later this month.

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