The US announced it would transfer $5.4 million in seized Russian oligarch assets to Ukraine.
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The US announced plans to send $5.4 million in seized Russian oligarch assets to Ukraine.The Kremlin responded with shock and legal threats.The Justice Department has unleashed a barrage of sanctions on Russian oligarchs.
The Kremlin cried foul this week after the US announced plans to give millions of dollars in seized Russian oligarch assets to Ukrainian military veterans.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the venture during his visit to Kyiv on Wednesday, saying the US would transfer to Ukraine $5.4 million in assets that once belonged to Russia’s powerful oligarchs.
“Those who have enabled Putin’s war of aggression should pay for it,” Blinken said during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Russia responded to the assertion with outrage and threats. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said such a transfer would be unlawful, Russian state media outlet TASS reported.
“We consider all cases tied to the blocking, seizure, or other retention of any funds related to state, private, or mixed property of the Russian Federation abroad to be illegal acts,” Peskov told reporters on Thursday.
The longtime mouthpiece of Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed future litigation on the matter, saying “not a single case of such illegal retention will be left unattended.”
The US State Department did not offer specific details about whose assets would be transferred to Ukraine, but the $5.4 million figure is the exact amount that a US judge ordered seized from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev earlier this year, The Daily Beast reported.
Malofeyev, who founded the pro-Putin television channel Tsargrad TV, was first sanctioned by the US in 2014 on accusations he was “threatening Ukraine” and financially supporting a Moscow-backed separatist group in Crimea, a claim which he denied.
US Authorities also alleged Malofeyev illegally conspired with former Fox News director Jack Hanick to transfer a $10 million Texas-based bank investment to his associate in Greece. Hanick was arrested in London in February 2022 and later charged with violating US sanctions.
The Justice Department charged Malofeyev with sanctions evasion in April 2022 — the first of its kind since Russia invaded Ukraine — and a US judge ruled in February 2023 that US prosecutors could confiscate $5.4 million belonging to Malofeyev as a first step to transferring those funds to Ukraine.
The Justice Department unleashed a barrage of sanctions on Russian oligarchs in the aftermath of the invasion, with some financial experts initially suggesting Washington’s efforts were a symbolic exercise in public relations.
The US and other Western allies have frozen at least $58 billion worth of Russian oligarch-owned assets since the war began.
The news that millions of dollars would be headed to Ukraine’s military veterans came alongside Blinken’s pledge of $665.5 million in new military and civilian aid to Ukraine this week.