HomeWorldReporter's Notebook: Making Russia Pay for Invading Ukraine

Reporter’s Notebook: Making Russia Pay for Invading Ukraine


One way or another, realistic or not, there is some expectation that Russia will have to pay for what it has destroyed in Ukraine. You break it, you pay for it. That reconstruction, however, is a long way off. There is no point in rebuilding what can be bombarded again. As long as the war continues, talk of rebuilding Ukraine seems theoretical. But arming it is an urgent matter if Kyiv is to continue to recapture lost territory and defend itself. Bill Browder believes that Russia must foot that bill as well.

“We are now in a situation where people in the West start complaining about sending money to Ukraine for defense and financial assistance when there are so many economic problems in other parts of the world and at home,” said Browder, head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign. and author of the book “Freezing Order,” he tells Fox News.

“The easy solution to this problem is that there are 350 billion dollars in hard currency reserves of the Central Bank of Russia that have been frozen. Therefore, it makes complete logical sense that this money is used not only for the reconstruction of Ukraine , but also for the defense of Ukraine. In my opinion, this is probably the most important factor that will determine the outcome of the war.”

Rescuers work at the site of a hospital maternity ward destroyed by a Russian missile strike, as its attack on Ukraine continues, in Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine November 23, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer
(Reuters/Stringer)

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As such, Browder views the idea of ​​freezing Russian Central Bank assets for Ukraine as an “elegant” solution to the cost of the conflict crisis, and is on a mission to make it happen. Aid to Ukraine has turned into political football in Washington as another disputed budget deadline looms amid fears of a possible government shutdown before the end of the year. Republicans want President Biden to stop writing “blank checks” and have clamored for more oversight of money spent in Kyiv. Some would like to see those dollars spent at the southern border of the United States. Browder says that any brake on Ukraine’s military momentum now, any clipping of its wings, would be catastrophic.

“If Ukraine doesn’t win this war, then we will be at war with Russia next. Putin will be on the Estonian border and he will threaten a NATO country. And then we have two terrible decisions to make. We can choose to go to war.” with Russia, which will be disastrous for us. Or, even worse, we can choose to abrogate our obligations to NATO and let Putin take Estonia.”

Sovereign immunity laws hinder the diversion of frozen funds from the Central Bank of Russia to weapons for Ukraine. Money belonging to governments cannot simply be expropriated. Browder argues that it is surmountable. He believes that laws can be changed, especially when arguments about “breaking legal precedent” ring increasingly hollow.

“Vladimir Putin is breaking all legal precedents by invading a neighboring country. Redrawing the map of Europe. And while he broadens the definition of criminality, we have to adjust the laws to take that into account.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the country's transportation industry via video link in Sochi, Russia, May 24, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the country’s transportation industry via video link in Sochi, Russia, May 24, 2022.
(Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via Reuters)

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Browder said he is suggesting to different lawmakers around the world that in specific and unique circumstances, such as “when a country invades its neighbor without provocation, if they are involved in genocide and other horrific crimes,” sovereign immunity should not apply.

Browder has some experience using the powers of persuasion when trying to compel justice. When Moscow failed to press charges in the death (many say murder) of his accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian prison, Browder drew up a list of those he considered responsible for the death and, after a lengthy lobbying effort, punished them.

“I’ve been there before,” he says, referring to it. “Thirteen years ago, I started advocating for the passage of something called the Magnitsky Act, which would freeze the assets of foreign officials involved in human rights abuses.” He said many bureaucrats backtracked, arguing: “This can’t be done. But we did it. It took 13 years. I hope this goes much faster.”

A crane repairs damage in Ukraine after a Russian attack

A crane repairs damage in Ukraine after a Russian attack
(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

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Time here is of a particular essence.

“I think Ukraine will win this war. And the only thing that will stop Ukraine from winning this war is if we stop giving them financial help to continue. And that’s why this money is so important.”



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