US Transfers Seized Russian Funds to Ukraine

    US Transfers Seized Russian Funds to Ukraine
    Last updated May 11, 2023
    Image credit: Getty Images [via CNBC]


    • US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday approved the transfer of millions of dollars worth of assets seized from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev to aid war-ravaged Ukraine. In a statement, he said: "While this represents the United States' first transfer of forfeited Russian funds for the rebuilding of Ukraine, it will not be the last."[1]
    • The Justice Department last April charged Malofeyev with violating sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine, saying he was one of the primary sources of funding for pro-Russian separatists in Crimea. In February, Garland authorized Malofeyev's funds for use in Ukraine to "remediate the harms of Russia's unjust war."[1]
    • The Russian government criticized the move, saying the US had illegally "stolen" the money and that the decision would backfire on Washington. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the move undermined "the confidence of investors and owners of assets" that were "connected with America," adding that the US should face "consequences" for the decision.[2]
    • Though it's unclear when the funds would become available or how Kyiv would use them, the transfer comes as G7 finance ministers gather in Japan for a three-day summit starting Thursday to discuss ways to support Ukraine, pressure Moscow to end the conflict, and prevent Russia from circumventing sanctions.[3]
    • Meanwhile, the UK has confirmed it will supply Ukraine with Storm Shadow missiles — which have a range of over 250km (155 miles) — to strike well behind the front lines. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the missiles will give Ukraine the "best chance" of defending itself and "allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based on Ukrainian sovereign territory."[4]
    • Elsewhere, the chief of Wagner refuted Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy's claims that Ukraine's counteroffensive has not yet begun because Kyiv needs more time and weapons to maximize gains, alleging Zelenskyy was "being deceptive" and that Ukrainian forces had started their counterattack and were "unfortunately, partially successful."[5]


    Anti-Russia narrative

    Sanction evasion is a crime, which is why the US is right to prosecute Russian oligarchs helping Putin continue the illegal war. Using frozen Russian assets to counter the costs of Moscow's destruction would show Putin he cannot economically ruin Ukraine and the West.

    Pro-Russia narrative

    US sanctions against Russia are illegal. The transfer of funds to Ukraine is a high-profile political stunt to suppress Russia, the US de facto enemy in the economic sphere, and is aimed at forcing Ukraine to buy weapons from the US to feed America's military-industrial complex.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    It's hypocritical to impose sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine, but not on the US for invading Iraq for equally unjustified reasons, or on Israel for invading and annexing Arab lands.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 5% chance that Russia will use nuclear weapons against Ukraine before 2024 if the US provides Ukraine with any fighter aircraft, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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