In a move that is unprecedented, the government of the United States has seized all assets belonging to Russia. This is in a bid to make sure that the country’s leaders do not have access to funds that they may need to continue the war against Ukraine.
The seized assets belong mostly to Russia’s central bank and comprises gold held in reserve in the United States. The seizure also includes Russian assets held by any US nationals or companies in any part of the world.
To Stem Destabilizing Activities of Russia
A statement from the US Treasury Department said that the move was to make sure that Russia’s destabilizing activities are stemmed by restricting its leaders’ access to funds that could be crucial in the prosecution of the war in Ukraine.
According to Janet Yellen, the US Secretary of Treasury, the United States is cooperating with her allies to ensure the accomplishment of their collective objective of keeping critical funds off limits to the government of Russia. She said that this has become a necessary commitment on the part of the country and her allies as they strive to put an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The latest move is part of wide ranging sanctions against the energy giant which includes Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that targets investments in the country and the head of the agency, Kirill Dmitriyev.
A Considerable War Chest
A senior administration official that was privy to the inner workings of the policy that led to the seizure stated that the administration intentionally made the move to ensure that the seizures took place before the market opened on Monday.
According to the official, there was an intelligence report that the Russian government wanted to move its assets around the world from Monday, February 28. So the seizure was a preemptive action to prevent the assets flight that has been scheduled by the Russian government. He said that the seizure took immediate effect in all the countries where the US and her allies have influence to enforce them.
The US official said that the seized assets are part of Russia’s “war chest” accumulated over time. According to him, the Russians are aware that they would need such a war chest to prosecute a war such as the Ukrainian campaign and any other they may plan in the future. However, with the seizure, the American government intends to make sure that critical funds are not accessible to Russian authorities.
He said that the US government knew that the assets existed and that the seizure was necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the sanctions against Russia. He added that “This is exactly what we have done today”
The volume of assets that Russia kept in the United States and Europe is not yet known, but what is obvious is that the Europeans and the Americans dominate global finance and most likely hold large amounts of these assets.