By Ott Tammik
Estonia plans to introduce a legal blueprint for seizing Russian assets this month as the Baltic nation moves ahead with a bid to deliver funds frozen under European Union sanctions to Ukraine.
The legal framework will come by the end of January after the government in Tallinn tasked ministries in late December to come up with a plan for asset seizures, Mihkel Tamm, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said on Monday.
Estonia aims to present the plan by the time the European Commission develops a bloc-wide arrangement to deal with €300 billion ($322 billion) in Russian central-bank reserves and billions more in frozen assets of sanctioned Russian individuals.
EU members “need to take work forward on securing accountability for the crime of aggression and to use Russia’s frozen assets,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who has gained popularity at home and abroad for her vocal stance against President Vladimir Putin, said in December.
Estonia’s anti-money-laundering authority estimates that frozen funds in Russian-owned accounts in the country amount to almost €20 million.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government is open to converting Russian assets to aid for Ukraine as long as complex legal issues can be resolved, according to people familiar with the discussions. One option would be to target assets from individuals involved in war crimes rather than imposing blanket seizures that could take years to be resolved legally, according to one of the people.