May 2, 2022 - World

U.S. to seize Russian oligarchs' assets for Ukraine aid, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill on April 5.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer during an April news conference on Capitol Hill. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A $33 billion Ukraine aid package will include provisions for the U.S. government to seize and sell Russian oligarchs' assets, and give the proceeds to the invaded country, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday.

Why it matters: The U.S. and other governments are moving to financially squeeze oligarchs with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin with the aim of influencing his actions in Ukraine and, in the longer term, curtailing the power of Putin and his circle, per Axios' Emily Peck.

  • "Ukraine needs all the help it can get and, at the same time, we need all the assets we can put together to give Ukraine the aid it needs," Schumer said at a news conference in New York City.
  • "It's time for sanctioned Russian oligarchs to be held accountable for the ill-gotten wealth that they have received," Schumer added.

Driving the news: Schumer's announcement follows a Biden administration proposal last week for the federal government to sell assets seized from Russian oligarchs over the Russian military invasion of Ukraine and use the proceeds for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Details: "These oligarchs, loyal to Putin, are extremely wealthy and bought these types of assets, which are here in the United States," Schumer said.

  • "This is the kind of stuff we're talking about: yachts, mansions," Schumer continued, noting artwork and helicopters would also be seized.
  • "You may ask, 'Are any of these assets in New York?' Obviously, a whole bunch are," he added.

By the numbers: More than a dozen yachts owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs have been seized, or identified for seizure, by governments around the world since Russia's military first invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Zoom in: United Nations officials have said there's "no question" Russian forces are using food as a weapon of war in Ukraine.

  • Analysis by the Economist Intelligence Unit published earlier this year projected Russia's military assault on Ukraine would crater the Ukrainian economy by 47% in 2022.

Zoom out: USAID administrator Samantha Power told ABC's '"This Week" on Sunday that soaring global food shortages were "another catastrophic effect" of the invasion.

Go deeper: Dashboard: Russian invasion of Ukraine

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