Kremlin: seizure of Western assets is a retaliatory move, could be expanded

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin after a meeting of the State Council on youth policy in Moscow, Russia. Sputnik/Valeriy Sharifulin/Pool via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Wednesday Moscow’s move to take temporary control of the assets of Finnish energy group Fortum and its former German subsidiary Uniper was in retaliation for what it called the illegal seizure of Russian assets abroad.

President Vladimir Putin late on Tuesday signed a decree establishing temporary control of the Russian assets of the two European state-owned energy firms.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the decree did not concern ownership, just the power to manage the assets. He said the measure could be expanded to other assets if necessary.

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“The decree adopted is a response to the aggressive actions of unfriendly countries,” Peskov said. “This initiative mirrors the attitude of Western governments towards foreign assets of Russian companies.”

Putin’s decree “does not deal with property issues and does not deprive the owners of their assets because the external management is temporary and only means that the original owner no longer has the right to make management decisions,” he said.

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Peskov added, without elaborating, that there were “a number of other nuances”.

The list of enterprises taken under external control “can of course be expanded”, Peskov said.

“The main purpose of the decree is to form a compensation fund for the possible application of reciprocal measures in response to the illegal expropriation of Russian assets abroad,” he said.

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