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Russian Central Bank. Credit: Фотобанк Moscow-Live

Financial Times has an article on how the idea of confiscating Russian assets is being seen in Europe and elsewhere as self destructive. Even Christine LaGarde, the President of the European Central Bank, has warned that “moving from freezing the assets, to confiscating them, to disposing of them [could carry the risk of] breaking the international order that you want to protect; that you would want Russia to respect.”

The vast majority of the Russian assets—nearly $200 billion—are held in Belgium, in the accounts of Euroclear, while the U.S. holds among the least, at $5 billion. Switzerland holds some $7 billion, and France some $1 billion. While founded by JP Morgan in 1968, Euroclear is a cooperative of several cross-border clearing houses.

While members of the G7, such as the U.S., Canada and the U.K., that hold the least of Russian assets, have pushed for seizing the assets, the other European Union countries oppose it. In the G20 finance ministers meeting, opposition was voiced by Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan and Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who fear the potential effect on their own assets held in Europe, and the U.S. Treasury Secretary. Italian Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said that it would be “hard and complicated” to find a legal basis for seizing Russian state assets, and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire asserted that the legal foundation simply did not exist.

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