Using Russian funds to help Ukraine 'difficult legal question': Scholz
The European Union wants to use Russia's frozen funds to help Ukraine with its reconstruction as the war still goes on.
The West using frozen Russian assets to help with Ukraine's reconstruction is a complex legal issue that will require the European Union to do a lot of work before a decision is reached, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Friday.
"It is a very difficult legal question. And so a lot of work has to be done All of us will have to go through these questions; what is feasible, what is not feasible if you are sticking to the rule of law?" Scholz said, highlighting that Brussels was working on trying to understand the issue at hand.
"This is why the Commission is working hard to understand the problem [of using frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine] and find an idea about how to act and what to do," he added on the sidelines of the International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction, and Modernization of Ukraine in Berlin.
The EU is now at the beginning of "something unprecedented", Scholz underlined, noting that he did not expect the 27-nation bloc to reach a decision on the matter anytime soon.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, on the other hand, said Brussels was already working on the issue and had already created a special group that was mulling the possibility of using Russian assets to provide assistance to Ukraine.
"We have created a task force with experts from Member States and international experts, which is called 'Seize and Freeze Task Force,'" she said.
According to the EU president, the task force in question will be tasked with mapping "what is out there has been frozen" and the "legal preconditions that have to be given to enable seizing and using" the assets in question.
Additionally, the top EU official said a decision of this sort was not "legally trivial".
The European Council said last week that it had called on the European Commission to propose means it could use Russian assets to support the reconstruction of Ukraine.
Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Alexander Venediktov deemed in June the freezing of Russian assets to be one of the "greatest thefts in history."
The Ukrainian President has several times asked his allies to further support him financially and militarily throughout the war, even by using frozen Russian assets.
In the first half of the year, the EU supported Ukraine with €1.2 billion in loans and billions in arms and weapons deliveries, and in July it agreed to provide an assistance package worth €9 billion of which €1 billion were dispatched last summer and another €5 billion are already approved but not yet delivered.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Fabian Maienfisch, said earlier in the month that Switzerland disapproved of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky's proposal to transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine.
Zelensky's proposal to block Russian assets in Swiss banks and transfer them to Ukraine was delivered a few weeks ago.
The West and its allies rolled out comprehensive sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine war, which included freezing Moscow's foreign currency reserves and halting international payments from Russian banks.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov estimated that about half of Russia's gold and foreign currency reserves, worth well over $300 billion, were frozen.