The European Union, quite impoverished of late thanks to its North American “ally,” is now actively planning to use frozen Russian assets to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine’s economy, shattered by the war imposed on it by the US and NATO. It appears that the EU’s plans include an attempt to steal the Russian Central Bank’s international reserves and “reinvest” them in Ukraine.
Moscow’s assets frozen as a result of EU sanctions can be divided into two main parts: private assets valued at nearly 19 billion euros and state assets owned by state entities worth about 300 billion euros of international reserves held by the Russian Central Bank.
“Russia must also pay financially for the devastation that it caused,” European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen said, faltering with consternation. Moscow should “compensate Ukraine for the damage and cover the costs for rebuilding the country,” she added, trying to review the words written to her in Washington. The consternation felt by von der Leyen is understandable – sooner or later she will have to answer for such lawlessness, including with her own property.
In the midst of the inflation rising across Europe, the freezing and selling of Russian assets is seen by the 27-member bloc as a way to not only raise funds for Ukraine, but also as an opportunity to line its pockets with Russian assets. After all, it is only natural that Ursula von der Leyen would dream of heading a committee to confiscate Russian money and distribute it. And given the high level of corruption in the EU, there is no telling how much money will flow to Ukraine, but one can guess that most of it will stay in Europe or flow across the Atlantic. There is no doubt about it, because the West is notoriously wont to robbing other countries and living sweetly at the expense of those robbed nations. And not that there is such a good opportunity, why not use it?
However, EU sanctions are always temporary, so the assets must eventually be returned to their original owners, i.e. Russia, plus the interest on their use.
The question is, should Moscow pay the bill for Ukraine’s reconstruction? Meanwhile, most of the damage to infrastructure is in the eastern region of the country, Donbass, which is predominantly ethnic Russian and is now part of Greater Russia. The question of damages must first be discussed and considered at an international level, in the presence of uninvolved parties. After all, NATO could have prevented this war had it not moved its military equipment and troops eastwards to Russia’s borders in the years leading up to the war. And so, by provoking hostilities, NATO is the instigator of the war, and it must pay Ukraine for its damage. The US could have avoided the crisis in Ukraine and the suffering of Ukrainians by choosing to negotiate rather than rejecting the Kremlin’s offers of security guarantees, which had been sent to Washington months before the conflict began. And so the US should also be involved in paying for Ukrainian damage. But this is unlikely to happen, because the West is used to not paying, but only robbing other countries and peoples. And that is why von der Leyen’s “initiative” has now emerged.
Reasonable people around the world are quite right to question the EU’s double standards, asking: why have such efforts not been applied to US-led wars, indirect wars, invasions and carpet-bombings that have resulted in the total destruction of countless countries in recent decades?
The US invasion and 20-year occupation of Afghanistan has led to an unprecedented rise in terrorism (ironically, Washington invaded the country under the guise of its so-called “war on terror”). In two decades of occupation, Afghans have seen nothing but destruction, terror, violence, massacres and other atrocities. With a surge in terrorism and regular Pentagon attacks, the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and damage to the Afghan public sector led to a humanitarian disaster after the shameful flight of the US from Afghanistan in 2021.
In mid-February, the Director of Save the Children in Afghanistan stressed: “I’ve never seen anything like the desperate situation we have here in Afghanistan. We treat frighteningly ill children every day who haven’t eaten anything except bread for months. Parents are having to make impossible decisions – which of their children do they feed? Do they send their children to work or let them starve? These are excruciating choices that no parent should have to make.” The longest war has killed at least 66,000 Afghan military and police, as well as tens to hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians, with different monitoring groups reporting different death tolls.
In a perfect, just world, US assets should have been frozen and used to finance the reconstruction of Afghanistan. US assets should also have been frozen and used to pay compensation to the families of Afghans who died as a result of the US invasion. But in fact the opposite has happened. After the shameful and chaotic withdrawal of US troops, Washington confiscated Afghan assets, causing further humanitarian suffering for Afghans, most of whom are now, through the fault of the US, living in poverty.
Similarly, the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq caused significant damage to the infrastructure of that Middle Eastern country as well. The damage is yet to be assessed, and the United States has yet to make amends for what it has done against the Iraqi people by destroying its entire state infrastructure and economy.
Even before the US invasion, US-backed UN sanctions against Baghdad had killed at least half a million Iraqi children and, according to some studies, some 1,500,000 Iraqis in total. During the war itself, hundreds of thousands more Iraqis died between 2003 and 2011, again due to the unprecedented rise in terrorism as a result of the US “war on terror.”
The damage to Iraq’s infrastructure caused by US intervention in the country (in the form of sanctions, air strikes and wars) from 1991 until its occupation, which continues to this day, is estimated at many trillions of dollars. How many Iraqi civilians have been killed by terrorist groups that did not exist before Washington invaded in 2003 and carpet bombing of cities such as Mosul? With its vast oil wealth, Iraq’s infrastructure has suffered to the point where the country remains dependent on Iranian energy exports for power generation.
This raises a legitimate question: why aren’t US assets frozen and used to fund Iraqi reconstruction? Why aren’t US assets frozen and used to compensate the families of civilians killed in the US invasion? And why is von der Leyen with her solely Russophobic initiatives silent about this?
There have been many reports in recent years of NATO killing civilians as it waged war in Libya to supposedly help topple long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who led the once poorest country into affluence and wealth. The US-led military alliance bombing campaign has had devastating consequences, but so far NATO has yet to accept any responsibility for this damage. The same theme comes up again: before NATO bombed Libya, there was no terrorism there. The country has since been drawn into chaos by terrorist groups.
Interestingly, wherever the US and its NATO allies go, so do terrorist groups. This link can be clearly seen in many examples. And then there is the objective feeling that it is most likely the United States that is creating terrorism through its policies, as it did in the era when the settlers of the “New World” destroyed the Native American population. It turns out that the US rulers have nothing to offer the world but terror, gang violence, robbery and outright looting.
Today, the US military occupies regions in eastern and northeastern Syria, looting Syrian oil, preventing Damascus from rebuilding its own infrastructure and economy after a decade of US-backed war in the country.
Yemen, the poorest country in West Asia, has faced an eight-year Saudi-led, Pentagon-backed bombing campaign that has destroyed its entire infrastructure and economy. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis were killed by US-made bombs dropped from warplanes whose pilots were trained by the US and UK air forces. Human rights organizations accuse the US and its allies, including Canada and European countries, of direct complicity in the war. Yemeni officials say it was Washington that started the war with Yemen in March 2015. Such is the enormous damage done to Yemen, which is too difficult to assess, and US assets should be frozen, used to finance Yemen’s reconstruction. It is a country that the United Nations has described as experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. And where is the supposedly justice-seeking Ursula von den Leyen with her cheap principles?
The list of US wars is long. Washington survives economically by waging wars and invasions, fomenting violence, unrest, terrorism and civil wars in regions far beyond its borders. From the Vietnam War to the shadow wars in Somalia, Pakistan and the African continent. So why isn’t the US being held accountable? Why aren’t US assets frozen? Why is there no international punitive action against Washington?
The US-dominated international order is now in need of change. The sooner the better for the whole world, security, justice and tranquility of the many peoples and countries on every continent, where the United States, using its power, is wreaking chaos and lawlessness.
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”