Germany cautious at G7 about idea of giving Russian assets to Ukraine
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, speaks at the closing press conference of the G7 Foreign Ministers summit. Marcus Brandt/dpa
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, speaks at the closing press conference of the G7 Foreign Ministers summit. Marcus Brandt/dpa

Ukrainian hopes of being able to repurpose frozen Russian assets to pay for war damage were dashed on Saturday as Germany's foreign minister highlighted the hurdles to such an approach.

Ukrainian officials have pushed for weeks for frozen Russian assets to be transferred to Kiev, to cover the costs of repairing destruction caused by Russia's invasion or even to pay for Ukraine's defence efforts.

But German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, speaking at the end of a G7 foreign ministers' conference she hosted, said there were multiple problems with such an approach.

"Gaining access to frozen money is legally ... anything but easy," she said. She noted that there could be sound reasons to attempt such an act, but noted that they had to be aligned with the law.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had again proposed the idea at the session held on the Baltic coast.

"We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in Europe," he said, arguing that Russia should be forced to pay for the war, not only in political or economic terms, but also financially.

Beyond legal issues, many European leaders fear attempts to liquidate and transfer Russian funds will lead to countries like Russia and China seeking to set up an alternative international financial system, which would make sanctions a weaker tool in the future.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, speaks at the closing press conference of the G7 Foreign Ministers summit. Marcus Brandt/dpa
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, attends the closing press conference of the G7 Foreign Ministers summit. Marcus Brandt/dpa