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  • Writer's picturePhilip Ammerman

Josep Borrell's $ 300 billion Good Idea

Reading the Financial Times this morning, I came across this:

EU capitals should consider seizing frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves to help pay for the cost of rebuilding Ukraine after the war, the bloc’s top diplomat has said, as the west debates how to force Moscow to pay for some of the damage the conflict has caused.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, said the US had taken control of billions of dollars’ worth of assets belonging to the Afghan central bank, in part to potentially compensate victims of terrorism as well as for humanitarian aid for the country, and that it would be logical to consider similar steps with Russia’s reserves.

“I would be very much in favour because it is full of logic,” said Borrell in an interview with the Financial Times. “We have the money in our pockets, and someone has to explain to me why it is good for the Afghan money and not good for the Russian money.”

It never ceases to amaze me how blithely certain people throw out ideas, never stopping to consider what the real consequences might be.

The US and the European Union are already taking very visible sides in an active military conflict. The level to which they are openly escalating their assistance to Ukraine already makes them de facto co-belligerents to the conflict. This has obviously not gone unnoticed by Moscow, which has issued several notifications on the subject.

An escalation in terms of seizing $ 300 billion in Russian Central Bank reserves is tantamount to a de jure causus belli. An open and legal cause of war.

Yet neither the US nor the EU have taken the slightest step to prepare their populations for a war which they seem all to interested in starting. They have also not consulted their populations in any meaningful way.

Please do not mistake my comment for condoning Russia's invasion of Ukraine: I do not. My prior writing on this blog should be evidence enough of this.

But I firmly believe that if any country is going to take measures equivalent to war, it needs to be prepared for actual war.

And in an era of nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence, those preparations had better damned well be substantial ones. Not hiding behind bureaucratic collective-speak and fancy jargon.

Certainly not decision by European committee.

If Mr. Borrell really needs an explanation as to why it was "good" to seize Afghanistan's money and not Russia's, I would reply because Afghanistan does not have nuclear missiles.

But then again, I would expect the European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to understand the difference.


Financial Times. 9 May 2022. EU should seize Russian reserves to rebuild Ukraine, top diplomat says.

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