The proposal was approved by lawmakers as part of a $1.7 trillion spending deal that includes an additional $44 billion for Ki.
The US Senate has approved legislation empowering President Joe Biden’s administration to take Russian politicians, businesses, and companies’ American assets and deliver the revenues to Ukraine. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham stated that the legal change will bring in “billions of cash” for Kiev.
Graham and Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island sponsored the proposal. It was approved unanimously and was attached to a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, which the Senate later approved by a vote of 68 to 29, easily over the 60-vote barrier required to move the measure.
The amendment modifies US law to allow the Department of Justice to sell assets of “oligarchs…and other sanctioned enterprises,” as Graham indicated before the vote. “I expect billions of dollars in confiscated assets to be given to help Ukraine over time,” the South Carolina representative said later on Twitter.
The Justice Department has previously asked Congress to change US legislation so that money confiscated from sanctioned Russians might be handed to Ukraine.
Graham and Whitehouse have been among the most outspoken opponents of Russia on Capitol Hill since before Moscow initiated its military intervention in Ukraine in February. Graham visited Ukraine in 2016 to demonstrate his support for Kiev while its soldiers attacked people in Donetsk and Lugansk, and in recent months has advocated for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s execution.
According to figures from the Atlantic Council, a research organization backed by NATO and Western armaments manufacturers, the US has sanctioned 1,097 Russian businesses and 1,331 people to date. The overall worth of these targets’ assets held in the United States is unknown.
The US and its allies have also frozen assets belonging to the Russian central bank, totaling around $300 billion. However, EU and US officials have thus far found no legal way of seizing these assets, which are mostly made up of foreign currency.
“A large part of our assets have been essentially stolen by specific Western countries,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated in October. “These are absolutely illegal actions, they are contrary to international law.”
The spending bill passed on Thursday will next head to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be approved by the Democrat-held chamber. A small number of Republicans have vowed to oppose the bill and to punish their fellow GOP lawmakers who vote for it.