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EU's Von der Leyen proposes using Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU "should leave no stone unturned" for Ukraine's reconstruction, "including if possible, the Russian assets that we have frozen."

Agencies and A News WORLD
Published May 24,2022
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 24, 2022 (AP)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has proposed using Russian assets to finance the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"We should leave no stone unturned, that is including, if possible, the Russian assets that we have frozen," von der Leyen said on Tuesday, referring to the European Union's sanctions on Russian individuals and entities.

"This is not only about undoing the damage of Putin's destructive fury. It is also about building the future that Ukrainians have chosen themselves," von der Leyen said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Ukraine belongs [in] the European family," she said.

According to von der Leyen, Russia is "treating millions of people not as human beings but as faceless populations to be moved or controlled or set as a buffer between military forces, trying to trample the aspirations of an entire nation with tanks."

This "aggression must be a strategic failure," she said, stressing that "Ukraine must win this war."

She promised that the EU and international partners "will hand in hand help Ukraine rise from the ashes", even if it would require "colossal work."

Von der Leyen also accused Russia of using energy supplies and food security as global weapons.

Making a comparison between Soviet leader Josep Stalin's decisions to allegedly starve Ukrainians in 1930s, she said today "Kremlin's army is confiscating grain stocks and machinery" and "Russian artillery is bombarding grain warehouses across Ukraine."

Following the proposal of the European Commission, the EU will create an international donation platform, jointly managed by the EU executive body and Ukraine, that will combine reform and investment, she said.

The EU has allocated €2 billion ($ 2.14 billion) in military aid to Ukraine and mobilized more than €4 billion in macro-financial assistance, humanitarian aid, and support to EU countries hosting refugees from Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24.

It has also adopted five sets of sanctions against Russia, targeting individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as banning the export of luxury goods and coal imports, and excluding Russian and Belarusian banks from using the SWIFT international payment system.

Von der Leyen announced last week an extra €9 billion macro-financial assistance package for Ukraine which is expected to be endorsed by EU leaders at next week's summit.