Home Brussels EU agrees €3B raid on Russian assets to buy weapons for Ukraine

EU agrees €3B raid on Russian assets to buy weapons for Ukraine

by editor

BRUSSELS — The EU approved a plan to use the profits generated by investing frozen Russian assets to buy weapons for Ukraine.

Ambassadors meeting in Brussels on Wednesday gave the go-ahead after Belgium signaled a climbdown on the way it treats tax revenue on the cash — the last major obstacle to deal.

The profits generated by investing Russia’s assets immobilized in Belgium— where a large part of the assets frozen in Europe are kept — are worth between €2.5 billion and €3 billion per year.

“The money will serve to support #Ukraine‘s recovery and military defence in the context of the Russian aggression,” the Belgian government, which holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, said in a message on X, formerly Twitter.

Ninety percent of the profits will be used to buy weapons, while the remaining 10 percent will go towards non-military aid.

The agreement paves the way for the EU to send the money to the war-torn country in July.

The initiative is separate from a wider-ranging push by the U.S. to confiscate the assets in their entirety to support Ukraine, a move that is being rejected by the biggest EU governments over fears about legal and financial-volatility repercussions.

‘Accounting trick’

As POLITICO reported on Tuesday, the Belgian government had signaled that from 2025 it will funnel the tax revenue from the profts into a common EU or G7 fund for Ukraine. The tax income amounted to €1.7 billion in 2024.

This comes after the U.S. and several EU countries — led by Germany — heaped pressure on the Belgian government to hand over the cash to Ukraine, as POLITICO first reported. 

“The Belgian federal government is prepared to consider a voluntary arrangement from fiscal year 2025 onwards with the EU/G7 to transfer the windfall national corporate taxation from frozen Russian sovereign assets,” according to a Belgian government statement seen by POLITICO.

Belgium has a significant part to play because the Brussels-based securities depository Euroclear holds the bulk of Russia’s immobilized assets in Europe.

Until now, Belgium was taking tax revenues and sending the money independently to Ukraine through a national fund. The Belgian government argued that much of the money it collected in tax — about €1 billion out of €1.7 billion in 2024 — was earmarked to buy weapons for Ukraine.

But EU diplomats privately accused the country of an accounting trick, effectively double-counting its contributions to the war-torn country.

Humanitarian aid

In another last-minute concession, Belgium also reduced the fee that Euroclear will charge for handling the frozen assets to 0.3 percent — freeing up extra cash for Ukraine. 

The EU is expected to approve a plan to use the profits generated by investing frozen Russian assets to buy weapons for Ukraine. | Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

The latest text of the EU plan offered neutral countries, such as Austria, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, the chance to opt-out from buying weapons — possibly securing their backing for the deal. These countries can limit themselves to providing humanitarian aid. 

Capitals are now expected to carry out technical checks and formally rubberstamp the agreement next Wednesday.

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