STRESA: The G7 will explore ways to use the future income from frozen Russian assets to boost funding for war-torn Ukraine, finance chiefs from the Group of Seven industrial democracies said on Saturday, but offered no details of how to do so.

The G7 and its allies froze some $300 billion of Russian financial assets, such as major currencies and government bonds shortly after Moscow invaded its neighbour in February 2022.

“We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilised Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine,” the G7 said at the end of a two-day meeting in northern Italy.

Financing for Ukraine and meeting China’s growing export strength were the main themes addressed in comments from finance ministers during the gathering in the lakeside town of Stresa.

The United States has been pushing its G7 partners — Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada — to back a loan that could provide Kyiv with as much as $50 billion in the near term.

However, the cautious wording of the statement, containing no figures or details, reflects many legal and technical aspects which need hammering out before such a loan could be issued.

The issue will now be discussed by G7 leaders at a summit in southern Italy in mid-June.

“We are not yet ready to find further and clear measures to finance Ukraine, but this is now a topic of intensive work,” German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told reporters.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Moscow would reciprocate if the G7 went through with its threat. His government has already taken control of some Western businesses active in Russia.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said a loan to Kyiv was only “the main option” for G7 leaders to consider next month, but she didn’t want to “take anything off the table as a future possibility.”

G7 negotiators have been discussing for weeks how to best exploit the assets, which are mostly held in European-based depositories, and all the European Union’s 27 countries will have to sign off on any agreement. “It’s not a given, so I’m not saying this is a totally done deal,” Yellen said.

The G7 ministers and central bankers were joined on Saturday by Ukraine’s Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko, whose country is struggling to contain a Russian offensive in the north and the east, more than two years after Moscow first invaded.

Italian Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti, who hosted the Stresa meeting, told reporters a loan would aim to support Ukraine’s budget for the next 2-3 years and would not be used for weapons as this was forbidden by Japan’s constitution.

He added that it could possibly be administered by the World Bank or else an ad hoc body. Giorgetti said Marchenko had told the gathering Ukraine had a “desperate need” of financing.

“Consistent with our respective legal systems, Russia’s sovereign assets in our jurisdictions will remain immobilised until Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine,” the G7 statement said.

The European Union on Tuesday finalised its own deal to help Ukraine using the “unexpected and extraordinary” profits earned by the Russian assets in Europe, expected to yield 15-20 billion euros ($16-22 billion) by 2027.

The latest US proposal is that Washington could provide a lump sum loan to Ukraine, to be paid back through the revenue stream from these assets, a G7 official said.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Price bombs
17 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

THERE was a time not too long ago when the faces we see sitting in government today would cry themselves hoarse over...
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
17 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

IT is no secret that visa applications to the UK and Schengen countries come at a high cost. But recent published...
After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...