France Disagrees with US on Confiscating Russian Assets at G7 Summit

Written by Camilla Jessen

Feb.29 - 2024 9:14 AM CET

Photo: Victor Velter /
Photo: Victor Velter /
France's Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, disagreed with the US idea to seize Russian assets at the G7 meeting on Wednesday.

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At the recent G7 summit, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire voiced opposition to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's proposal for confiscating frozen Russian assets. This stance revealed sharp disagreements within the Group of Seven nations, as reported by Reuters.

Diverging Views on International Law

After a G7 finance ministers' meeting, Le Maire expressed France's stance, highlighting a lack of consensus in international law for the US proposal and the necessity of broader international support, especially from G20 countries, which include Russia and China.

"This is not necessarily a confrontation. We continue behind-the-scenes discussions aimed at achieving a common goal, which is to find measures that comply with international law," stated Japan's Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, Masato Kanda.

The Debate Over Russian Assets

The G7 has been deliberating for over a year on the fate of Russian sovereign assets, frozen in response to the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Despite ongoing discussions, including at the G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sao Paulo, a consensus remains elusive.

Yellen advocated for leveraging Russian assets to aid Ukraine, citing "strong international legal, economic and moral reasons."

However, Le Maire countered, emphasizing the need for a broader legal framework agreed upon by the global community, not just the G7 or European nations.

Seeking Legal Grounds for Asset Confiscation

While there's a general agreement among G7 members that Russia should compensate for the damages caused, the path to legally confiscating frozen assets is still under exploration. Some officials and experts believe a legal basis exists for such measures.

European Union's Steps Forward

The European Union has advanced by tapping into the excess profits from these assets. German Finance Minister Christian Lindner supports this move, advocating for the use of interest from Russian assets to assist Ukraine. While Washington backs the EU's strategy, it urges more significant actions due to the severity of Russia's actions.

G7 Unity Against Russia

Despite differing views, the G7 remains united in its stance that Russia must pay for its actions, with leaders reaffirming their commitment to keep Russian Central Bank assets frozen until the conflict with Ukraine ends.

Additionally, the European Union is moving closer to creating a mechanism for using frozen Russian assets to benefit Ukraine.

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