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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Germans are ‘thieves’ – Lavrov

Washington is advising the EU on how to find a legal loophole to steal Russian assets, Russia's foreign minister has said

Washington is directing Western efforts to find a legal loophole that can allow them to steal Russian assets worldwide and use them to fund the government in Kiev, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on Thursday.

German officials in Karlsruhe announced plans this week to seize almost $800 million in assets from a Russian bank’s account in Frankfurt, due to alleged violations of EU sanctions. Lavrov reacted to the news by calling the German authorities kleptomaniacs.

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“They are thievish, we realized this a long time ago. They have been treacherous all along in political terms, you know: in the sense of reneging on agreements and trying to deceive someone. Now they have turned out to be thieves in the literal sense,” Lavrov told journalists following his visit to Tunisia.

The top Russian diplomat said the West is “laser-focused on the idea of finding some legal way to confiscate Russia’s assets,” starting with redirecting the interest from the currently frozen funds to Ukraine.

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“The Europeans still have some rudimentary respect for their own laws, so they are delaying these decisions. But according to our sources, behind the scenes the Americans are advising them on how to change these laws to steal everything,” he explained.

Last year, around €260 billion ($285 billion) of Moscow’s central bank assets were immobilized in G7 countries, the EU, and Australia. An estimated €210 billion ($230 billion) of Russia’s reserves were held in Europe, with €191 billion in Belgium, €19 billion in France, and €7.8 billion in non-EU member Switzerland.

Germany has blocked some €5.3 billion of Russian assets in its financial institutions, according to official data. Authorities in Berlin are reportedly now targeting the assets of a Moscow Stock Exchange subsidiary at the German branch of JPMorgan. However, a spokeswoman for the Frankfurt-on-the-Main court told TASS that the motion was still under “preliminary consideration.”

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov warned on Thursday that “an absolutely symmetrical response will follow” if the European Union decides to tap into profits generated from the frozen funds. He noted that there are sufficient foreign assets held in specialized ruble-denominated bank accounts, including dividend reserve liabilities to counterparties from “unfriendly” countries.