Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of Russia’s State Duma, said Sunday that Russia should confiscate property owned by Westerners in response to President Biden’s plan to transfer seized Russian assets to Ukraine.
Last week, Biden asked Congress to craft legislation that would give him the power to use the frozen assets of Russian billionaires as funding for Ukraine. Volodin called the plan simple “theft” and said Moscow should respond in kind.
“It is right to take mirror measures towards businesses in Russia whose owners come from unfriendly countries where such measures were taken: confiscate these assets,” Volodin said on Telegram.
Volodin said if Moscow seizes Western assets, it should go towards Russia’s development. “A dangerous precedent has been created: it should hit the States like a boomerang,” he said.
The House has passed a bill that would give Biden the authority to seize private Russian assets and use them for Ukraine, but it’s not clear if the legislation is comprehensive enough for what Biden wants. The measure had strong bipartisan support and passed overwhelmingly in a vote of 417-8.
The few US lawmakers against the bill have warned of setting a dangerous precedent. “Giving Biden unilateral authority to seize property, without providing some semblance of due process, sets a dangerous precedent regardless of whose property is to be taken,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) wrote on Twitter.
Since the US and its Western allies have started imposing sanctions aimed at decimating Russia’s economy, Moscow has responded in strategic ways, including by asking European countries to pay for gas in rubles. For refusing to pay in rubles, Poland and Bulgaria have had their Russian gas supply cut off.