A bipartisan group of US lawmakers introduced a piece of legislation on Thursday that would give President Biden the power to confiscate frozen Russian Central Bank assets and send them to Ukraine.
The Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act was introduced in both the House and the Senate. According to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the legislation would “provide additional assistance to Ukraine using assets confiscated from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and other sovereign assets of the Russian Federation.”
The US Justice Department has authorized the transfer of some private Russian assets to Ukraine, but taking funds from the Russian Central Bank would mark a significant escalation of Washington’s economic war against Moscow. Hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian Central Bank assets have been frozen by the US and its allies.
The legislation would also instruct President Biden to “work with allies and partners to establish an international compensation mechanism to transfer confiscated or frozen Russian sovereign assets to assist Ukraine.” European countries have been discussing the idea of using Russian assets to provide more funds for Ukraine, including investing the assets and sending Kyiv the returns.
The bill would also give the State Department “additional resources to work with partners and allies abroad toward the goal of confiscation of additional Russian sovereign assets in other countries.”
The House version of the bill was introduced by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Thomas Kean Jr. (R-NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL). In the Senate, the legislation was led by Senators Jim Risch (R-ID) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).