EU summit: Zelensky wants frozen Russian assets used for reconstruction and defence

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky requested that Russia's frozen assets in the Brussels securities house Euroclear be put entirely towards the defence and reconstruction of his country.

He addressed European leaders via video during the summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday. He also voiced his concern about the EU's lack of import restrictions on Russian agricultural products.

Member states are currently considering a plan to use the excess profits from "immobilised" Russian assets in Europe, worth about 210 billion euros, to support Ukraine. To avoid legal problems, under the Commission proposal, only profits on reinvested interest would be eligible.

“This year, we must use Russian assets to defend and rebuild life in Ukraine,” Zelensky said. "It's only fair that both the profits on those assets and the assets themselves are used."

"Everything we lose in revenue from trade is a loss of resources to stop Russia"

According to the Commission, 2.5 to 3 billion euros in excess profits could be used to benefit Ukraine this year. The proposal is to use 90 per cent for the supply of military equipment and 10 per cent for the country's reconstruction.

Zelensky also discussed Europe's agreement this week to suspend tariff-free imports of Ukrainian agricultural products when certain thresholds are reached. “Everything we lose in revenue from trade is a loss of resources to stop Russia,” he said. "But at the same time, we see that Russia still has unrestricted access to the European agricultural market (...) This is not fair."

Due to the safeguard of food supplies, the Russian agricultural sector has always been exempt from sanctions, but European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen made it clear last week that she now wants to impose restrictions. According to the Financial Times, tariffs on grain and oilseeds are imminent.


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