Did you know that across the world, especially in Europe, there are over $300 Billion in frozen Russian assets as part of the sanctions imposed due to Putin’s war of aggression against the free people of Ukraine? There is increasing consensus that those assets can be legally seized under American and international law and given to Ukraine to defend themselves against Putin’s aggression and ameliorate the suffering of Ukraine’s people.
In February 2022, President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale war of aggression aimed at destroying Ukraine as an independent state. As the human and financial toll of Putin’s illegal war climbs with each passing day, there is a growing global consensus that Russia has an obligation to pay for the death and destruction that it has wrought on the Ukrainian people and other victims of Russia’s aggression, unprecedented since the end of World War II. Although many countries have frozen Russian sovereign bank assets in response, they can and must do more. Any country that currently holds Russian assets should transfer them to Ukraine to help that sovereign nation survive and rebuild.
To this end, RDI has issued a comprehensive report on Constitution Day, 2023, demonstrating that transferring Russia’s assets to Ukraine is currently possible with no changes in U.S. law. This report was principally authored by constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe in partnership with his colleagues at the law firm Kaplan, Hecker & Fink LLP.
In these extraordinary circumstances, the President’s power to execute the proposed transfer flows from the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”). Subsection B of IEEPA explicitly empowers the President to “block” and/or “direct and compel” the “transfer” of “any right, power, or privilege with respect to” Russia’s “property.” Traditional tools of statutory interpretation demonstrate that “transfer” means the conveyance of a property interest from one entity to another. Thus IEEPA authorizes the President to “direct and compel” the conveyance of Russian sovereign assets to Ukraine. RDI’s report removes any reasonable doubt about the consistency of such transfer with precedent and historical practice and shows that it would be fully consonant with the United States Constitution and all applicable congressional statutes.
The proposed transfer also comports with settled principles of international law. Because Russia’s actions constitute grave and ongoing violations of international law and lack even a plausible justification, the doctrine of countermeasures entitles the United States and its allies to respond to Russia’s flagrant actions so as to induce its compliance with international legal norms. RDI’s proposed transfer of Russia’s assets to Ukraine would satisfy the key requirements of a lawful countermeasure, including the principles of proportionality and reversibility.https://rdi.org/articles/making-putin-pay/
If the GOP’s REAL objection to funding Ukraine’s defense is a fiscal one – and not [as we all know to be true] that they are fascist, war criminal coddling cowards and traitors to democracy and human rights – then this is a perfect way to help Ukrainians defend themselves without costing American taxpayers one thin dime.
The gauntlet is thrown, Mr. Biggs, Mr. Gosar, and Mr. Crane; are you just licking Putin’s butt, or are you really concerned about the fiscal costs of supporting the proud and brave people of Ukraine? I’m not holding my breath to hear you encourage President Biden to pursue this course as an alternative to further taxpayer support for Ukraine.