Press Releases Russia/Ukraine: Speech by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP plenary on Moscow’s frozen assets

Russia/Ukraine: Speech by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP plenary on Moscow’s frozen assets

Señora Presidenta,

As we have been speaking about the situation in Gaza, in other part of the world, Ukraine continues its courageous self-defence against the Russian aggression.

There, at least we have good news – at least from my point of view – when the US Congress has finally finished an agreement. It was very timely, because in the meantime, Russia is escalating its bombardment against Ukrainian towns, against civilians, against thermal power plants, even against dams, flouting basic international rules and standards.

The news from the frontline are also worrying.

Wars are also won on morale, and the US support package will also boost the morale of courageous Ukrainian defenders.

We know that the next weeks will be difficult, perhaps more dangerous even, for Ukraine’s and European security.

Especially, we, Europeans, can and we must do more because it is a matter of European strategic responsibility. When we talk about strategic responsibility, it means that we have to take our part, because there is no business as usual in Europe since the war started in February 2022.

We have done a lot, but I am sure we can do more and quicker. We have to be more audacious.

We have also failed to plan for the mid-term. We have always [been] looking at the curve of the latest Russian escalation against Ukraine, before we take our own decisions.

I have said several times – and I have to repeat today, in the last session of this Parliament – unhappily, this is a war of attrition, and Putin will continue this war to conquer as much of Ukraine he can. So, it is not going to finish soon. Putin will try to subjugate the freedom of Ukrainian people – and maybe go beyond Ukraine. Well, at least that is what their propagandists and some Russian leaders say all the time.

So, our policies for this war have been many times ad hoc. Now, we have to put them on a more stable, a more sustainable footing, in order to support Ukraine in the long term.

When the war started, nobody could expect it to last two years. For Putin, the plan was only a couple of weeks. Two years later, we are in a situation that he could never have imagined.

We have to think deeper. We have to prepare ourselves for a war that will require our efforts, our commitment, our actions. We have to continue supporting Ukraine but not only with words, and not only for tomorrow, and maybe not only for next year.

Our commitment to support Ukraine, who is fighting for our values and their security, will require unprecedented actions. It will require more boldness.

The topic of today’s [debate] is one such example.

At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, we immobilised, together with our G7 members and other partners, the assets of the Russian Central Bank. We immobilised these assets. These assets are today being managed by the Central Securities Depositories and generate extraordinary revenues. Because the interest rate has increased a lot, so this capital is providing much bigger revenues.

After long discussions, after studying carefully the rule of law that can be used in order to assess what we can do and what we should not do, we reached the conclusion that these extraordinary revenues could be used to support the immediate needs of Ukrainians to defend themselves.

How to do that? Well, I have to confess that this has been an unchartered territory and we needed to innovate.

We decided to pursue the goal of using these revenues for the support of Ukraine with a stepwise approach.

In the first steps, adopted by the Council in February, we introduced rules for Central Securities Depositories, that generate these revenues, to keep them aside – to identify them – and account for them separately. These revenues, now they are on separate accrue accounts.

We expect this mechanism could provide approximately €3 billion annually. In addition, we increased the legal certainty by making clear that these revenues do not belong to Russia, since they are not sovereign assets.

But make a clear difference between the capital and the revenues. I am talking about the revenues.

Now we are advancing with the next step. A month ago, as High Representative – which is entitled by the Treaties to make proposals to the Council – I proposed to the Council to use these revenues to support Ukraine with military means through our European Peace Facility (EPF).

And in order for you to clarify which was my proposal as High Representative – supported by the [European] Commission through a Council Regulation – I want to stress three main points here.

First, Ukraine urgently needs weapons and ammunition to defend itself and its people against Russia’s missiles, drones, glide bombs and constant attacks. We initially envisaged to use these revenues to support Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction.

But I think that, before thinking on reconstruction, we need to think about avoiding destruction. Antes de reconstruir hemos de pensar en evitar la destrucción. Cuanta menos destrucción haya, menos tendremos que reconstruir.

Solamente en la región del Donetsk – que está parcialmente ocupada por Rusia y donde su Ejército está presionando diariamente – hay ciudades que ya no existen. Que ya no existen, han sido borradas del mapa: Mariinka, Vuhledar, Bakhmut.

Más de 100,000 estructuras residenciales han sido destruidas. Por eso he propuesto al Consejo que el 90% de estos ingresos, de estas rentas, sean dedicadas a aumentar la ayuda militar a Ucrania para evitar más destrucción.

Lo haremos a través de la European Peace Facility que, como ustedes saben, ha sido utilizada desde el principio de la guerra para apoyar a Ucrania con ayuda militar.

El otro 10% será asignado al presupuesto de la Unión para medidas de reconstrucción y medidas de apoyo a la industria de la defensa; porque, como ustedes saben, hasta que no haya mejor criterio el presupuesto de la Unión no puede ser utilizado para comprar armas.

Por eso, diseñamos la European Peace Facility que no es parte del presupuesto de la Unión, sino de un fondo intergubernamental que no está sometido a esta limitación.

Segundo, quiero reiterarles que esta iniciativa se refiere solo y exclusivamente al uso de las rentas generadas por estos activos inmovilizados. No a los activos en ellos mismos, no al capital, sino a la renta producida por este capital.

Podemos pensar otras acciones, pero de momento creemos que esto es algo que se sostiene legalmente. Que, por lo tanto, podemos coger estos ingresos, estas rentas y asignarlas, como les he dicho antes: 90% de la European Peace Facility y 10% al presupuesto de la Unión.

Y finalmente, esta iniciativa ha sido tomada en plena coordinación con los otros Estados del G7, en cooperación con nuestros socios internacionales.

Esta propuesta ha sido elevada al Consejo a través de una “Council decision proposal”, propuesta por el Alto Representante, que es quien puede hacerlo de acuerdo con el Tratado, y acompañada de una “Council regulation”. Es decir, la propuesta conjunta de la Comisión y de mí mismo, para ver de qué manera esta decisión, si se adopta por el Consejo, puede ser aplicada.

El Consejo las está discutiendo. Espero que su discusión se acabe pronto porque necesitamos estos recursos para seguir manteniendo nuestra ayuda a Ucrania en un momento decisivo de la agresión de Rusia.

Muchas gracias.


Link to the video:


Closing remarks

Thank you, President.

It is difficult to conclude a debate where there are so [many] different approaches.

For some of you, it is absolutely necessary to seize the capital and for others, it is completely against international law, and you do not want it to happen.

Well, for the time being, we are going to take the revenues of the capital which, according to the legal services, is fully in accordance with international law. We can do that – that is what I have been advised to do. And for the time being, we are not going to seize the capital because there is not enough clarity about what we can do and what we cannot do.

Certainly, if we say that everything has to be done in accordance with international law, and the aggression against Ukraine is against international law, we cannot do something that is against international law.

Unless we are sure that it is not against international law.

Because international law is international law, for one thing and for the other. I cannot support the international law when it is on my side and not support it when it is not on my side.

Otherwise, it would be double standards. Have you heard about double standards? So, we do what we believe we can do. And we will continue studying and require legal advice in order to see what else we can do.

Certainly, we would be very happy if we could take €300 billion but we have to act according to what we believe we could do.

I understand there are different opinions. It is life.

Thank you very much for your interesting contributions and for the permanent attention that you have being paying to this debate, staying on camera until the end of this debate in order to be able to listen to my final intervention.

Thank you.


Link to the video:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *