UK Government lagging behind EU and Canada on using frozen Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine, says Hywel Williams MP 

Plaid Cymru’s foreign affairs spokesperson in Westminster, Hywel Williams MP, has today (Monday 20 February) urged the UK Government to take a more active role in examining how Russian assets can be used to rebuild Ukraine. 

The Plaid Cymru MP’s intervention comes after the European Union announced last week (Tuesday 14 February) that it is establishing a working group on the question. 

The European Union’s working group will carry out a “legal, financial, economic and political analysis” to assess this possibility, the Swedish government said in a statement last Tuesday. Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, which sets the bloc’s political priorities. 

In Canada, under the Special Economic Measures Act - Russia Regulations, the Canadian Government intend to use seized Russian assets to help fund the work of re-building Ukraine. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced on the 19th of December 2022 that they would start with by pursuing £21.7m of holdings by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Canada is the first G7 country to implement such measures. 

According to the Russian central bank, approximately £266 billon of Russian foreign reserves are frozen in sanctions-participating jurisdictions, including France, Germany, Japan, the U.S, the U.K., Austria, Canada. 

The UK has frozen £18bn of assets belonging to oligarchs and other Russians since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

In the UK, the existing legal method to take the next step and seize these assets in the UK would be to use the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The UK Government have said that work is on-going in this regards. 

Hywel Williams MP said: 

“Friday will mark a year since the Russian regime’s illegal attack on Ukraine began. In this time, the Ukrainian people have shown remarkable resilience in the face of continued brutal attacks. 

“Those who support and prop-up Putin’s regime must pay for the damage caused and give compensation to the victims of this unjustifiable invasion. The Russian-linked assets which have been frozen in the UK should be used to support the people of Ukraine, including funding humanitarian efforts and contributing to the reconstruction of the country. 

“The UK is currently lagging behind Canada and the EU on this issue. The Foreign Secretary should take a more active role internationally to ensure that Russia pays for the reconstruction of Ukraine. 

“The UK must continue to support Ukraine on the path toward peace and pursue accountability for the horrific crimes being committed across Ukraine.”