Putin says freezing of Russian assets in West is ‘theft’

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday branded as “theft” the freezing of Russian assets abroad and warned it would “not go unpunished”.

G7 leaders agreed Thursday on a new $50 billion loan for Ukraine using profits from frozen Russian assets, a move US President Joe Biden said showed Moscow “we’re not backing down”.

The G7 and the EU froze around 300 billion euros ($325 billion) of Russian central bank reserves, days after Moscow ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

On Friday, Putin said Western countries were trying to come up with “some kind of legal basis” to justify these “but despite all the trickery, theft is still theft and will not go unpunished”.

The Russian leader also warned the standoff between Moscow and the West was coming “unacceptably close to the point of no return” and boasted that Moscow “possesses the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.”

Putin has repeatedly invoked nuclear rhetoric throughout the conflict with Ukraine, which he casts as just one front in a wider “hybrid war” between Russia and the NATO military alliance.

He also blasted a Ukraine peace forum taking place in Switzerland this weekend as a “trick to distract everybody.”

Moscow was not invited to the conference, which will be attended by the heads of state and senior officials from around 90 countries and international organisations.

Agence France-Presse

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