Ukraine says allies’ concerns are hampering war indemnity talks

By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s efforts to ensure it receives compensation from Russia for damage caused by its invasion are hampered by allies’ concerns about the potential precedent, a senior Ukrainian official has said.

Kyiv is trying to reach an international deal that would provide a legal basis for Russian assets that have been frozen by other countries — particularly billions of dollars in assets held by the Central Bank of Russia — to be transferred to Ukraine to help rebuild the country.

But Deputy Justice Minister Iryna Mudra gave a rare glimpse into Kiev’s negotiations with its partners, saying some countries are concerned about setting a precedent that would jeopardize their own fortunes by opting out for compensation claims in previous conflicts involving them were, would open .

Ukraine says compensation from Russia is vital to its future. The government said earlier this year that the damage to the economy from the February 24, 2022 Russian invasion exceeded $700 billion — money it doesn’t have.

“We have no choice but to let Russia pay reparations. If it doesn’t do that voluntarily, (let’s) fill a (compensation) fund with Russian money, foreign exchange reserves and Russian assets,” Mudra said in an interview with Reuters this week.

“They (some countries) are afraid that a precedent could be set … that their foreign assets could be affected.”

She did not name the countries that had raised such concerns, but said Ukraine was trying to allay her fears.

“This treaty will apply exclusively to the situation of egregious war of aggression” in violation of the United Nations founding document and the rulings of the International Court of Justice “so that it cannot be used for other conflicts,” she said.


Negotiations are ongoing following the passage of a resolution by the UN General Assembly in November calling for Russia to be held accountable for its invasion and recognizing that Russia is responsible for reparations in Ukraine.

It also recommended that member states and Ukraine establish a register to document information about damage, loss or injury caused by the invasion, which has killed thousands of civilians, uprooted millions and destroyed cities.

The West froze about half — or more than $300 billion — of Russia’s international reserves after invading Moscow.

Moscow says it will do everything it can to prevent the West from “looting” state assets to pay reparations to Ukraine, and Russia’s UN ambassador said the UN resolution’s provisions are “legally null and void”.

Despite the obstacles ahead, Mudra said Ukraine hopes that an international mechanism to compensate Ukraine will be established within a year.

She also said she hopes an agreement to create an international damage register in Ukraine will be announced in May and signed by foreign partners – including all wealthy Group of Seven nations – by early June.

“This is the first — and extremely important — step in creating this compensation mechanism,” Mudra said.

“The process has begun. It is inevitable, there is no going back.”

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, editing by Timothy Heritage and Frank Jack Daniel)


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