Seizing Russia’s Frozen Assets: Quis iudicabit?

Seizing Russia’s Frozen Assets: Quis iudicabit?

  • European Journal of International Law
  • Jan 24th, 2024

As 2024 begins, negotiations on further financial assistance to Ukraine have stalled on both sidesof the Atlantic. As a consequence, Western policymakers now increasingly consider confiscating Russia’s frozen assets as a possibility to circumvent the political deadlocks that are blocking further financial aid. Russia, on its part, has already threatened Ukraine’s supporters with retaliation in kind if they should proceed to confiscate its assets.

But are there other options for Russia to fight a confiscation of its foreign assets? Could it bring a case before an international court or tribunal, maybe even before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)? The Russian government already indicated a willingness to take legal action against the freeze imposed on its assets. While such claims haven’t materialized yet, the West proceeding from freezing to seizing might well push Russia over the edge and give rise to litigation or arbitration over the fate of the approximately $350 billion in Russian state-owned assets currently frozen. 

This post will determine which international legal fora would be competent to adjudicate Russian claims for a possible confiscation of its foreign assets, which of them are most likely to be chosen by Russia, and what obstacles and risks Russia would be facing if it decided to sue.

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