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IPFS News Link • Senate/Senators

Seizing Russian assets: A feel good bill that will absolutely boomerang


The Washington foreign policy establishment is on the precipice of making yet another strategic blunder.

The Senate is poised to ram through the Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act. This legislation will provide the president the authority to confiscate Russia's frozen sovereign assets in the United States and transfer them to Ukraine for its reconstruction.

Confiscating Russia's sovereign assets is an act of economic war. Seizing and transferring these assets to Ukraine may make Washington feel virtuous, but it will not bring peace. Passage of this bill will only reinforce the view of hardliners in Moscow that Russia's war lies not just with Ukraine, but really with the United States and the West. Any hope that the United States and Russia could work toward stabilizing or improving relations will subsequently be destroyed.

There is no justification for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but enacting this bill will make peace less likely. Ukrainians have courageously defended their country for nearly two years, but even Ukraine's former top military commander General Valery Zaluzhny admits the war is now a stalemate.

Russia's frozen assets could be used as a bargaining chip during negotiations, but once Congress provides the president the authority to seize Russian assets, there will be immense political pressure on him to carry out the policy to avoid looking weak. President Biden was recently pilloried by the media and members of my party for returning frozen Iranian assets in exchange for five American hostages. He is unlikely to make that decision again.

Confiscation will only convince Moscow that there is no negotiated settlement to be had with Ukraine. The result will be a destroyed Ukraine. More Ukrainian soldiers and civilians will die, and more cities and towns will be turned to rubble.