Ukraine: Russian assets for reconstruction?
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to use frozen Russian assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine, as envisaged in 2022. A plan on how Russia can be held financially accountable in this way will be presented before the summer break, she announced on Wednesday. Commentators discuss whether the measure is sensible and fair.
Make Moscow pay
The donors who showed generosity at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London this week should not have to shoulder the costs on their own, The Daily Telegraph argues:
“The World Bank estimates the cost of reconstruction at more than £300 billion, a figure surely rising daily as Russian missiles continue to wreck Ukraine’s infrastructure. ... Since it will not be possible to get the Russian state to pay up, why can’t the frozen bank accounts, impounded yachts, requisitioned houses and art collections be confiscated to make a contribution? Doubtless there are legal hurdles to be addressed and overcome. But if any country is going to bear the cost of rebuilding Ukraine, it should be Russia.”
Even in this case the rules must not be broken
The bid to make Russia pay for its crimes in Ukraine with its frozen assets is morally understandable but wrong, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:
“The war in Ukraine is also about defending what is called the ‘rule-based international order’: the principle, for example, that borders are not shifted by force; the principle that disputes are settled peacefully; or the principle of state immunity. In this particular case some EU countries may not like this rule. But where will we end up if it is undermined? ... The rule-based order is not defended by breaking the rules.”
Use discounts on energy purchases
Reparations for Ukraine could be generated through a form of commodity exchange between Russia and the West, economist Vladislav Inosemtsev proposes on Facebook:
“Moscow now sells oil to India at a discount of 20 to 25 dollars per barrel, incurring significant logistical costs. If the Europeans were to resume purchases with half that discount and use the difference to rebuild Ukraine, an annual sum of 25 to 40 billion would be mobilised. Resuming gas purchases could raise another 15 to 20 billion. In any case, the only way to get money from Russia would be in exchange for cooperation — and sooner or later the West will have to accept that.”