Russia promises ‘symmetrical response’ if West seizes assets

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Ukraine’s backers have been mulling ways to confiscate the frozen funds in order to aid Kiev

Moscow will respond in kind if the West goes through with threats to confiscate Russian assets blocked abroad, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov warned in an interview with RIA Novosti published on Monday. He noted that Western states themselves still have assets in Russia that could be jeopardized if the frozen funds are tapped.

“This is not a question for us, we are following the decisions of Western countries,” Siluanov stated. “We have frozen no less [of Western funds]. Any actions with our assets will receive a symmetrical response.”

Western countries have blocked an estimated $300 billion in assets belonging to the Russian central bank since the start of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022.

The UK and US have recently demanded an outright seizure of those funds in order to aid the government in Kiev, whereas the EU has been more cautious, opting instead for a plan to seize the interest earned from the assets held at the clearinghouse Euroclear. Many European countries have warned that an outright confiscation of the funds would reflect badly on the Western financial system and erode trust in the euro.

While Siluanov did not elaborate on the amount of Western assets currently held in Russia, calculations by RIA Novosti put them at roughly equal the size of the Russian funds frozen abroad. Total foreign direct investments in the Russian economy by the EU, G7, Australia, and Switzerland amounted to $288 billion at the end of 2022, the news agency said in a report last month.

Moscow has repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the asset freezes, slamming the practice as “thievery” and warning of countermeasures should the West move to confiscate the funds. Siluanov warned that global players are closely following the story involving the Russian assets and are drawing their own conclusions.

“The Chinese are reducing their exposure to American securities – this is a consequence of what is happening [with Russian assets]. The reliability of the dollar and the euro has been compromised,” he stated.

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