West stands to lose at least $288 billion in assets if Russian assets seized -RIA

(Reuters) – Russia’s state RIA news agency said on Sunday it had calculated that the West stood to lose assets and investments worth at least $288 billion if it confiscated frozen Russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine and Moscow then retaliated.

After President Vladimir Putin sent forces into Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. and its allies prohibited transactions with Russia’s central bank and finance ministry, blocking around $300 billion of sovereign Russian assets in the West.

U.S. and British officials have worked in recent months to jumpstart efforts to confiscate Russian assets immobilized in Belgium and other European cities in order to help reconstruction in Ukraine, parts of which lie in ruins.

They hope Group of Seven leaders will agree to issue a stronger statement of intent when they meet in late February, around the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, three sources told Reuters on Dec. 28.

Russia has accused Washington of trying to strong-arm countries in Europe, where most of the Russian assets are, into signing up to similar measures, and the Kremlin has said that Moscow has a list of U.S., European and other assets that would be confiscated if Western countries press ahead.

RIA cited data which it said showed that direct investment by the European Union, the G7 nations, Australia and Switzerland in the Russian economy at the end of 2022 totalled $288 billion.

It said EU nations held $223.3 billion of the assets, of which $98.3 billion was formally held by Cyprus, $50.1 billion by the Netherlands and $17.3 billion by Germany.

It said the top five European investors in the Russian economy also included France with assets and investments worth $16.6 billion and Italy with $12.9 billion.

Among the G7 countries, it named Britain as one of the largest investors, citing data at the end of 2021 which showed British assets in Russia were worth about $18.9 billion.

It said the United States had $9.6 billion worth of Russian assets at the end of 2022, Japan $4.6 billion and Canada $2.9 billion.

Switzerland and Norway, which RIA said usually signed up to anti-Russian measures, had $28.5 billion and $139 million respectively at the end of 2022, it said, while data showed Australia had $683 million invested at the end of last year.

Reuters could not verify the data cited by RIA.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Mark Heinrich)