In confiscating frozen Russian assets, Estonia may follow Canadian example

Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa).
Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Estonian government on Thursday discussed an overview submitted by the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the legalization of confiscating Russian assets frozen in Estonia to compensate for damages caused in Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine. According to Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa), Estonia may follow Canada's model on this front.

"We have put a lot of effort into developing this, and the government's indication today was that we should go ahead with it as well as submit a corresponding bill in cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Danilson-Järg said at Thursday's government press conference.

According to the minister, Ukraine is already compiling a register of war damages pursuant to a UN resolution adopted last November according to which all damages caused by Russia must be registered and claims submitted for compensation.

"In a situation where Ukraine will be submitting a claim to Russia in the future that Russia will refuse to fulfill, Ukraine can theoretically seek help from other countries or the EU in fulfilling these claims from assets of the Russian Federation under their jurisdiction," she explained. "So we here have to prepare in any case for the fact that such requests for assistance may come from Ukraine. We definitely need to find some sort of legal solution for the matter of the seizure of sanctioned assets."

Danilson-Järg cited Canada as an example, which has already adopted regulations according to which, in the case of a serious violation of peace and security, it can seize the assets of the violating state and individuals connected to the violation and use them to compensate damages they have caused.

"That would be an example for us as well to some extent," the minister noted.

The ultimate goal, however, would be achieving an EU-level regulation on the use of frozen assets to compensate Ukraine's damages, she added.

Danilson-Järg nonetheless expressed doubts regarding whether this bill can still be adopted within the term of the current, XIV Riigikogu, as the 2023 elections are just a few weeks away.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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