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Zakharova Warns ‘Very Tough Response’ If the West Steals Russia’s $300 Billion in Frozen Assets

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, in remarks on the Soloviev Live television broadcast, today warned the West to not finalize plans for stealing the $300 billion in frozen Russian assets that they are holding. “This is theft. This is misappropriation of what does not belong to them. We indeed see different methods, probably not to backtrack but to somehow play in this case, because they understood that our response will be very tough, just like to all of [their] previous approaches,” the diplomat said.

She continued: “When they understood it, they started attempting to finally estimate somehow the cost for them, what type of tit-for-tat measures would cover it exactly, and that they would be hit by retaliatory measures, and there will be retaliatory measures, which, I would like to reiterate, will be very harsh. Given that our country has categorized [the West’s actions] as theft, the attitude taken will be that taken toward thieves. Not toward political manipulators, not toward spin doctors or orchestrators who have outplayed their hand, but precisely toward thieves.”

The IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath warned in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine published on Feb. 12 that any steps towards seizing Russia’s frozen reserves should be backed by “sufficient legal support.” “The decision of what to do with Russia’s frozen assets rests solely with the countries that are holding these assets and the negotiations among them,” Gopinath said. “I think the broad contour always is that you want to make sure that whatever you are doing has sufficient legal support, so that you don’t end up with risks down the line,” she emphasized.