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Politics

Greece Slow to Freeze Russian Assets Over Ongoing Ukraine Invasion

January 11, 2023

ATHENS – While providing some weaponry and vowing further support – but not missile defense systems – for Ukraine, Greece has lagged in freezing Russian assets under European Union sanctions.

Greece joined Malta in being scrutinized by the European Commission for reacting slowly to lock up Russian assets, said the news agency Reuters, referring to an internal document and a European Union official.

The 27 EU countries have so far reported freezing some 20.3 billion euros ($22 billion) of sanctioned Russian assets, with Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria each notifying actions totalling more than a billion euros, the report said.

Almost every other EU country has frozen millions worth of assets, according to the document from the EU’s executive European Commission the news agency said it had seen, but that Greece has only locked up 212,000 euros ($227,912) so far.

“That is a bit surprising,” said the EU official, who spoke under condition of anonymity. “Either they don’t have much, or they are not doing their job. Or they have done something but not communicated to us even though they had chances.”

Russia has piled pressure on Greece over the sanctions and the two Orthodox countries have been traditionally close in some areas. Greece, like the EU, relies on Russian energy for up to 40 percent of its needs, the fuels exempt from sanctions.

More than 10 months since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the EU has blacklisted 1,300 people and 120 entities as well as economic sanctions in place that include trade, transport, energy, banking, media and defense sectors, the report said.

The EU still hasn’t decided whether to confiscate frozen Russian assets and spend it on rebuilding Ukraine if the war ends without a Russian takeover. An estimated 300 billion euros ($322.52 billion) is in central banks in Europe.

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