France freezes $24 billion worth of Russian Central Bank assets
Real estate, individual accounts and more are in the tight grasp of Paris.
French Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire announced on Sunday that France has frozen $24 billion worth of assets belonging to the Russian Central Bank, in addition to freezing the accounts of private individuals.
"We have frozen the assets of the Central Bank of Russia in the amount of 22 billion euros. In addition, we have frozen assets in private individuals' accounts in French financial institutions in the amount of 150 million euros," Le Maire told RTL.
Over those billions, France has also frozen real estate - around 30 properties - which amount up to half a billion euros, including apartments owned by Russian citizens, as told by Le Maire.
"In total, this is almost a billion euros, or 850 million euros, that we have frozen," Le Maire added.
Since February 24, West-led sanctions have bombarded both the Russian financial and energy sectors.
Read more: EU officials plan to funnel funds from seized Russian assets to Ukraine
European officials have seized billions of euros in Russian property and assets in recent weeks, and if US and EU officials are to be believed, more is on the way.
In Italy, officials have seized assets worth €780 million ($862 million) in the last two weeks. According to Dutch Central Bank Manager Klaas Knot, €194 million in the last week alone. And now, amid the rush for Russian cash, EU officials are attempting to channel the funds into a so-called "war reparations fund" for Ukraine's struggling regime, according to a Bloomberg story.
The EU has been working closely with the US in the face of widespread mainstream western condemnation of Russia's ongoing special military operation aimed at demilitarizing and de-nazifying Ukraine, which was prompted by near-constant attacks on Russian-speaking communities in eastern Ukraine, which have killed well over 14,000 people since 2014.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Wednesday the formation of a "task force" to "seize and freeze" assets belonging to "REPO," or "Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs."
Pressure campaign against Russia
The measures are part of an ongoing economic pressure campaign on Russian individuals, primarily by NATO-aligned nations. Official announcements portrayed the move as an initiative to "identify, constrain, freeze, seize, and, where appropriate, confiscate or forfeit" the assets of Russians suspected of having ties to the Russian government.
Only a day later, the EU declared a "Freeze and Seize" operation to collaborate with the US and coordinate Western cooperation. The so-called "task forces" are said to work alongside a previously disclosed US Justice Department-led program called "KleptoCapture," which aims to seize finances and assets from persons deemed "Putin affiliates" by Western governments.