After the war in Ukraine is over, can the west use the frozen russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine

What happens with all the frozen assets, seized yachts, oligarch mansions, etc. after the war?

Seven countries have frozen assets barring Russia from at least $284 billion.

After the war is over, can that money be given to Ukraine to rebuild their country or do they have to give it back to Russia?

I thought the concept of freezing assets is that the owner can’t use or spend them while they’re frozen, but they haven’t actually been taken away - i.e., the various governments who have frozen assets haven’t actually taken possession of them. When the freeze ends, the oligarchs get everything back.

Frozen money is leverage If you spend it (ie steal it) the target of the sanction has no incentive to change the behavior that led to the freezing in the first place.

You might look up the situation of Iranian frozen assets:

The problem with what the OP is suggesting is that Russia would likely seize Western assets in Russia–and these are probably much greater than Russian assets in the West.

Frozen vs Confiscated

Assets are frozen so they can’t be used to further the aims of the war, or in the case of Iran, to further the need to compel more acceptable international relations (i.e. nuclear ambitions). In a way, it’s based on the legal principle known as the “500 pound gorilla”.

Of course, to confiscate assets in the west, where the rule of law presumably actually works, the assets need to be shown as part of some wrongdoing. The current pretext as I understand with oligarchs’ assets is that they are active participants aiding and abetting the pursuit of the war and other criminal enterprises. The current oilgarchy is (allegedly) closely tied to Putin and their wealth contributes to the support of the entire Russian misgovernment, and they hold wealth only through the acquiescence of Putin and his government. (see Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Wikipedia for consequences of disagreement)

My thought is that Putin will eventually have to concede and withdraw, with various levels of concessions. Otherwise, the level of military and sanction support of Ukraine will continue to escalate until Putin has used up the 60-year-old veterans and has to turn to 70-year-olds and 14-year-olds to man the army, something usually done for defense, not offense.

One of those concessions will be repaying the cost of rebuilding. There are bridges, roads, rail, power grid, water and sewer to be rebuilt. There will be problems with food supply if much of the wheat fields of Ukraine cannot be planted in the next two months. And the most obvious from the news reports, there are probably millions of houses and apartments to be rebuilt, huge swaths of the population will be homeless for the next few years.

If the cost of rebuilding is not part of the peace treaty, then I would expect the west to use the frozen assets to go toward the cost of rebuilding. I expect that will not be enough, and I expect that a substantial portion of oil and gas revenue going forward will also be tapped to go to Ukraine. Basically, at this point Putin is mortgaging Russia’s future. You think the Russian economy was sluggish before, imagine it with more than half the oil revenue missing. the economy of a victorious Ukraine will be booming, with plenty of jobs in construction financed by this outside revenue.

Also, the cost of rebuilding will not be paid by the west if Putin actually wins, and occupies Ukraine like he wants to. Nobody in the west is going to send money to line the pockets of connected Russian contractors pretending to rebuild destroyed apartments.

During WWII, the US did seize some German assets that were never returned. The word “Aspriin” was seized and generic ASA tablets are still called Aspirin, although not in Canada. And I know of at least one German published book whose copyright was seized and I own a copy of the uncopyrighted English translation.

There’ve been suggestions that a global fund be created to administer Ukrainian relief using money seized from frozen Russian assets. Example:

Complicating such a plan would be obtaining agreement by legislative bodies in countries participating in the global fund, dealing with lawsuits by injured parties who want separate settlements, and delaying tactics in international tribunals, along with threats and bullying by Russia to get its assets back.

The basic idea has appeal; implementation probably won’t be simple.

Right now the assets are just frozen & could conceivably be released back to the owners. I’m sure it would take a whole 'nuther level of investigation & law making to determine what percentage of their assets were really ill gotten gains, what percent of their wealth isn’t traceable (ie. property in Russia), & what percent is confiscateable (is too a word) up to the level of some, probably many judicial standards given how some of the oligarchs have assets in multiple countries.

There seem to be two sets of assets. Those owned by the Russian state, and those owned by Russian citizens. Frozen assets of the average oligarch would be difficult to permanently seize. They are just second hand leverage. But assets that are clearly holdings of the government should, I imagine, be easier to make a case for use in reparations.
Say the Ukraine government sues Russia in a US court for reparations. It isn’t inconceivable that the court could award damages, and direct that those damages come from US held assets. Similarly in other countries. That places a veneer of legal framework over what is inevitably a very political situation.

I think the current legal framework is that any of those oligarchs with massive personal fortunes are in various ways tied into running the government (part of Putin’s inner circle of advisors) and so personally liable partially for the actions of the government. The assets will stay frozen until a solution to the problem is found that is acceptable to Ukraine also - thus incentivizing a peace plan that includes a reparation process.

Plus I’m sure the west is capable of showing that criminal enterprise is variously tied into assorted riches of the Russian elite, thus providing extra grounds for seizing assets.

Note that there is also some controversy over just how much resale value some of those assets might have – the megayachts in particular. I think this was discussed in another Ukraine-related thread around here.

They thought about it. The ACLU sued, and won.

WWI, but yeah.

Just saw a discussion on TV (CNN?) about the war… I believe it was a Ukrainian cabinet minister.

“How much will it cost to rebuild the Ukraine?”
“About $600B in damages have been done so far.”
“How would that be paid for?”
“We would like the West to give us at least the approximately $300B in Russian funds frozen in western banks.”

First time I’ve seen a specific discussion on this topic.

Some news that a certain moderator might not take kindly to - but there is some good development for Ukraine on this front - over $300 billion could potentially be used to help Ukraine. It would definitely lead to a lot of thorny legal precedents, though. I would also wonder how exactly the money would be sent and in what form it is - if it’s money in a bank account, it could be wired directly into Ukraine’s accounts or something like that, but if it’s more illiquid, presumably it would have to be sold off first.

Those were war reparations, not frozen assets. That was a function of the Allies winning the war, not German property being within US jurisdiction during the war.

You made me curious about the book in question. Would you reveal the title and author?

Agree. And it sets a precedent that will be used spuriously by people, organizations and states with deep pockets and no scrupels. Think of “strategic lawsuits against public participation” or SLAPPs but not directed against single journalists, but whole economic sectors or countries.

It was called Modern Algebra (Moderne Algebra in the original German) by well-known Nazi B.L. van der Waerden. He was Dutch, but was actually prosecuted by the Netherlands after the war, although never returned to face the consequences. It was the English translation that was seized.

The USA is in a unique position as a 500lb gorilla that also controls the banking system. In other countries, authoritarian regimes have no problem confiscating local assets. As for private lawsuits, those are already commonplace (plenty of lawsuits against foreign governments over assorted injustice, in the USA). Notably, also libel laws in Britain are too strict and I recall reading that most US states won’t enforce British libel judgements. Recall too, that Salvador Allende’s government had financial problems because a chief foreign income source was copper mining. Allende nationalized mines owned by American conglomerates. they objected the price was too low, claimed the mines had been stolen, and tied up copper shipments in places like Europe with lawsuits over ownership.

Plus, plenty of lawsuits, even today, over ownership of artworks (and other assets) that changed hands during the Nazi persecution of Jews before and during WWII. People who sold items pfennings on the reichmark, today there are questions about how consensual the sale was, etc.

as the old saying goes… “Where there’s a will, there’s a lawyer.”

I am not sure in which sense you are arguing, I for my part do not want the Russian state, the Bielorussian state, the Wagner Group, a bunch of oligarchs, their successors and the like to be able to do the same as the USA did during their darkest moments. That would be frightening.