This development marks a potentially groundbreaking shift in international relations, as the U.S. prepares to potentially seize a central bank's assets from a country it is not officially at war with.
The bill, known as the Act of Restoration of Economic Prosperity and Opportunities (REPO) for Ukrainians, received overwhelming support in the Senate Committee, with a vote of 20 to 1 in favor. The bipartisan support across both the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as backing from President Joe Biden's administration, underscores the bill's significance and potential to become law.
As reported by Reuters, the legislation's approval could enable the U.S. to access and redirect approximately $300 billion in assets from the Russian Central Bank, which were frozen in 2022 following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Although the majority of these assets are held in Europe, particularly in the Belgian Central Securities Depository Euroclear, the U.S. holds approximately $5-6 billion of these funds.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warmly welcomed the Senate Committee's decision, emphasizing the fairness and necessity of such a step. "Russia should feel the real price of aggression," Zelensky stated, expressing gratitude for the efforts in locating, freezing, and confiscating Russian state assets and those linked to it.
This legislative move by the U.S. Senate Committee represents a robust response to the ongoing conflict and demonstrates a commitment to aiding Ukraine's recovery efforts post-conflict. The approval of the REPO Act by the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. Senate marks a pivotal moment in the international response to the Ukrainian crisis.