Russian Frozen State Assets and Support for Democracy

EVENT TRANSCRIPT: Russian Frozen State Assets and Support for Democracy

DATE: 27 March, 4:30 – 5:30 pm

VENUE: Henry Jackson Society and Online

SPEAKER: Kira Rudik, Bill Browder

EVENT CHAIR: Dr Alan Mendoza


Dr Alan Mendoza 0:07

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Henry Jackson Society. So, we’d like to see you, of course, or watching in your offices or at home. And you’re all very welcome. And today we are discussing the issue of Russian state assets. But we might even embark on other assets as well, if we feel like a bit of economic smash and grab it in that way to do with, of course, reparations for the disaster of the Ukraine war, of course by Russian aggression. So, should the Russians not pay? We’ve had quite a lot of discussion over the past year in particular. Kira and Bill have spoken about it before and have spoken about it quite a lot since trying to work out how can we essentially punish the Russians for their acts of aggression and the damage they’ve done to Ukraine. So, we’ll hear a little bit more about what they think we can do, of course, have an opportunity for you, of course, to also give your views as to what you think is viable and possible to do. Think of your questions. While we’re talking. I’ll give a quick introduction to our two speakers and the order in which they will be speaking. Kira Rudik, as a member of parliament, of course of Ukraine, a good friend to HGS. She’s also the first deputy chair, woman of the Parliament Committee on digital transformation, which of course, reflects her previous career in a very similar industrial area. But she is the leader of the godless, liberal political party. And he’s also a vice president of the alliance of liberals and Democrats in Europe, one of the big European Pan European groupings for her particular political persuasion, she is indeed a very influential Ukrainian politician, but also a voice for truth and justice in the world. She received a woman in politics champion of the Year award in 2022, from the alliance of her, and she has, of course, also been honoured at the Magnitsky Awards, which we’ll come to in a moment, of course, in that way, but Kira, we’re always delighted that you’re with us that you’re able to escape them. On a personal note, I’m sure she will tell you that she has been a victim in terms of not only her country being invaded, but her property being destroyed by Russian forces. So, we will hear more about that from your care as well and what can be done. And of course, Bill Browder bill is a dear friend and a good friend of HGS, I won’t say old friend of her old bill, but long-standing friend from the very earliest days of his attempt to secure justice. Firstly, in terms of corruption in Russia, secondly, when the lawyer investigated on his behalf, that corruption Sergei Magnitsky was brutally murdered by Russian forces in prison. In in, as they were seeking to steal all the money, they decided to kill him, as well in that process, and Bill has taken that terrible event and he’s mastered, it brought a campaign of epic proportions to punish malefactors and human rights, starting, of course, with those who are responsible for the Magnitsky murder, but moving forward to a global position where human rights malefactors all forms can indeed now be sanctioned in many, many countries on account of bills, campaigning prowess at securing that and until the Ukraine war, I think Bill was probably the biggest thorn in the side of, of Vladimir Putin, which is no mean feat, I would say, given he was doing this essentially as a private citizen. Since then, he has, of course, thrown his weight behind the democratic forces over the world in resisting that Russian aggression. so delighted to have you both with us. Kira will speak first on the subject, then Bill, then we will come to you for your thoughts. Kira.

Kira Rudik 3:42

Thank you so much for the introduction, Alan, thank you, Henry Jackson society for your constant support on the matter of confiscation of their assets and of Ukraine. Thank you, Bill, for being such a good friend in this mutual fight for freedom and for justice, which is very important. I cannot believe that it’s already 25 months since full scale invasion started. And it’s almost 10 years since the war began. And Russia invaded Ukraine. We are right now in a very complicated situation when the world is taking the war as the new normal and getting adjusted to that. And it’s getting harder and harder to get more and more support. We are absolutely sure in Ukraine that we can win the war. We just need the proper amount of weapons and supplies for that our people are ready to fight. Our people are fighting at the front. But to win the war. We need them perception of our Western allies to switch from helping Ukraine fight to letting Ukraine win. And it’s a critical switch and it has so many things behind this conception. One of the critical pieces is providing us with the weapons and it implies that there will be more money spent. And every time I’m speaking to different audiences in different countries, people are asking where they would get more money for that. And there is a very simple answer, putting should be paying for what he broke, we should not be using the money of the good people who are actually supporting us supporting freedom, we should be making Putin’s to pay with his money. And we have access to that. And it is critical that it’s actually right there, behind the control of the Democratic leaders of the democracies and the Democratic justice system. But for many reasons, those money are not unfrozen yet and not being used for the sake of Ukraine. So as of right now, there are about $500 billion. It’s both the state assets and the oligarch assets. And we have information that there is more, but they are not being public just yet, that these are money by Russian state and Russian oligarchs that have been frozen, they have been frozen when the full-scale invasion started. And so, the time nothing happened with that. What we need to happen is to find a legal solution and to have a political will strong political will to execute on this legal solution to direct the money for the sake of Ukraine. Their latest calculations on them expenses that Ukraine will have for the rebuild not only to win the war, but for the rebuild is about exactly this 500 billion. And the issue is that every single day this amount is growing. I want to share here then my personal story. It was January 2 this year. Just the day after New Year’s, you know, when people usually most people are crossing things of their plans for the year, I was just still eating the previous day salads. And it was 7am. This is the time when they usually attack us. And the air raid siren was on. And I was on the way to under the stairs where I usually hide when things like that happen. And it was 7am. And I was really slow because that was in the minute. There was a missile kid right near where I lived. It was a congealing missile; it was probably 500 metres away. But the blast was so strong that the windows of my home were pulled and thrown at me. And the glass was everywhere. And it felt like absolute Armageddon, there was fires, my neighbours and myself, we were running around trying to help each other find other people who need help. And it was absolutely terrifying. It was the worst experience, though I have seen so many things beforehand. I was really 500 metres away. And you can imagine what happened to the nine-floor building where the missile hit almost 200 families just lost their homes in one minute. And five people lost their life that day. And it was just one missile and one hit. Part of my wall was damaged, and the windows were absolutely broken. But by this time, I have already fixed things and tried to pretend that nothing happened. But I can do it because I have a luxury of having funds to do that. And there are so many people who cannot and multiply neighbours have not done the rebuild. And their expenses that people have to take just because we are on the other side of the fight for the democracy is tremendous. And this amount is growing every single day. So, it makes it very personal for me to make sure that those money will be transferred to the ones who need them to go back to the normal lives that this money will be used for the sake of Ukraine so we can win the war. And it is absolutely critical for us. And it is absolutely personal. For me. It was personal for me before, but it is personal for me now. There has been progress since the time when Bill and I met two years ago. So, first of all, their political situation switched from everybody saying no, no, you’re crazy, this will never happen. It’s impossible. It’s so hard. There are no legal solutions. There is no political will, or Russia can do so many bad things, if we do that, etc. to the situation where most of the politicians kind of nod and agree that yes, this is the right thing to do. We will have to do that. But the truth is, it didn’t happen just yet. So, everybody’s already nodding, but they are not doing the things well. But you know, we got from absolute No to Yes. And I think we can push this like last mile. So, by this time, there has been a progress in particular countries. So, first of all, in Canada, our good friend, Member of Parliament Ratna Omidvar has submitted a bill that have passed on using their confiscated money for the sake of desert country. It is as the third country. Now they are going through the courts with certain money to create this precedent, then Belgium, our good friend where the Prime Minister Alexander the crow, he didn’t touch the existing money, though Belgium has the majority of them because of the EU Euro clear system. And so, they decided to use the proceeds on the money for the sake of Ukraine, and 2 billion. And it’s like, not a small amount, right? That they got, they already directed to Ukrainian fund. So, it’s basically, you know, this small track on the ice, that we hope that if we hit it more and more, at the end, we will get what we need. However, there are many more ideas of how to move along. The first idea is by our friend in Estonia, to put all the money into the fund and help Ukraine using this fun, James Cameron here, he had made a claim that probably the money that have been frozen in the United Kingdom can be put in fund or taken as a loan to Ukraine. But these are all you know, they’re not permanent solutions. It’s showing of willingness of making sure that Russia actually pays the issue that we are having is very simple. We do not have time. And for these two years, though, I believe that this progress has been made. And it’s good. We still have not seen a single European them or like just one Democratic leader stepping back and saying, Okay, here I am. Here, am I I’m doing this. Here you go. We are using the Russian money for the sake of Ukraine; however, it is the logical, just, and fair thing to do. And I think politically, it’s the perfect thing to tell your electorate think, okay, dear good people, we are not going into your own pockets to take money to support Ukraine, we are using Russian money to do that. This is such a fantastic idea. What everyone is afraid of I currently do not know. Because we know that what is no matter what we do, Russia will keep the rising us there is no nothing that they that can pull them to do it harder or easier. It just terror, it’s war. And we are the victims of that. And we are saying please support us in the matter and make them pay on the personnel matter. Just like Bill says we can hit them where it hurts. And it’s exactly the right thing to do. So, we are working in different European countries in the United States and in Canada, to make sure that this processing is moving along. It’s going very slow. So, we are calling for every good person to support this and to push their politicians to do the right thing. The last thing I want to say is just recently being in the United Kingdom for one day, they already had discussions about Abramovich and his money, but it’s like a very interesting, interesting case. So, if you remember oligarch Abramovich was, though he was under the sanctions was allowed to sell Chelsea, if the money will be frozen, it’s 2.5 billion and then given to Ukraine, it happened two years ago, since that time, nothing happened. Money is sitting in the UK bank. There is no push for him to use those money, no pressure for him to actually send them to Ukraine. And there are some discussions and negotiations. And honestly, nobody knows like, what’s the actual story where it is and whom we need to call or push or protest against, so that these things would move along. And again, it’s not a small amount of money, it’s 2.5 billion. And my personal question on that is what’s happening with the prospects of those money? Like is he receiving that like what’s going on. But the fact is that this is the only one solution for us as a country to continue receiving the help, because we totally understand that. When we are talking about more and more support, people cannot constantly pull out of their own pockets. They need to have the resource where to get this, and this particular is the resource. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Dr Alan Mendoza 14:18

You’re very powerful and passionate about the cause. I think it’s interesting that you mentioned the Abramovich case, because as I understand, Bill, you may have some understanding this as well. A trust was set up essentially to take the money, which was then to be distributed rather curiously phrase to the victims of the Ukraine war. And the last I heard of it a couple of weeks ago, was that those victims of the Ukraine or might include Russians, who have very strange debate going on, it would seem about where that money could go, and nobody quite understands the mechanism of how it can be used. It’s right to raise it and right to try and get some closure and understanding where those assets can actually be utilised. That It’s good to raise. Bill?


Bill Browder 15:13

Alan, thank you, as always to include me in these important discussions. And thank you for your support for justice. For Sergey Magnitsky, the Magnitsky Act, I’ll just tell everybody here that when nobody believed in my claws after Sergei Magnitsky was killed, one person did, and that was Alan Mendoza. And when I couldn’t get a meeting with anybody in Parliament, he knew a few people in Parliament. And from 2010, until the Magnitsky Act was passed here in 2018. I would say that my one of my best allies was Ellen Mendoza and Henry Jackson society, and I owe you an infinite debt of gratitude for the work you did and Kira. I don’t think we would be where we are today in this debate about the confiscation is if it wasn’t for you, it’s if anyone turns on the TV and sees when whenever there is a discussion about confiscating the $300 billions of Russian Central Bank reserves, there’s a greater than 50% chance you’ll see Kira Rudik’s face on the television. And what’s interesting about this, and I don’t think this would ever happen here is that she’s a member of the opposition. She’s not even a member of the government. But she’s essentially so over there in Ukraine. I’m sure they have their invites all day long. But when it comes to these important issues, everybody is rowing in the same direction, at least on this type of stuff. And so when the worst started, like everybody else in this room, like everybody else in the world, I felt horrified, I probably felt more horrified than most people because I’ve been screaming about Putin’s monstrosity and murderous intentions for a long time, and everybody thought that I was some kind of hothead, that I had some kind of psychological problem with Putin, and that I should really sort of tamp it down. I mean, I and I was just the canary in the coal mine. I saw him kill Sergei Magnitsky. I saw him kill Boris Nemtsov. I saw him kill Anna Politkovskaya. I saw him benefit from the $230 million that Sergei Magnitsky was killed over and I knew what he was up to. And we were just one small, small, small victims of something which now has been broadened out hundreds of 1000s of times and, and I wanted to do something like everybody else. I mean, there were people who were, you know, organising ambulances to go there and, and medical supplies and, and all sorts of other things. And I wanted to do something and as I thought about what I could do, about a week after the war started, the central banks of the West did this amazing thing, which is, and I would say amazing, unexpected, which is Putin, his central bank, kept reserves in rubbles and gold, but they also kept the reserves and dollars and euros and Sterling and yen. And when you keep those reserves, stuff like that those keep those reserves are held at the Russian Central Bank, if you want to keep dollars, you hold them at the US Federal Reserve. If you if you want to hold Sterling, you hold them at the Bank of England. And apparently if you want to hold European bonds, you hold them at Euro clear. I didn’t know that until recently, but, and as passive and appeasing, as all of our Western governments had been over the last 20 years with Putin. In that first week, we froze 300, somewhere between 303 100 50 billion, we still don’t know the exact amount of Russian Central Bank reserves. And I was amazed, surprised and gratified. And as I was thinking about what to do, I’ve spent the last 15 years going around governments and Parliament’s speaking about a law to freeze Russian assets. And if there’s anyone who has a network built up in terms of these conversations with these lawmakers in these governments about Russian assets, it’s me. And I thought the one thing that I could uniquely contribute to this conversation is how do we seize those assets for the benefit of Ukraine. And so, I started on this conversation. And about three months after the war started. I went to the World Economic Forum in Davos, they had a special they normally do it in February, but they’re doing it in May that year. And I met Kira and Kira had the same idea. And we said let’s talk about this and we both went together and separately to different Parliament’s and governments to have this conversation. And the first few meetings I had everywhere was just like Bill, you’re out of your mind, that’s impossible. I can’t, that can’t happen. I mean, that would be unlawful. You know, Russia is protected, their money is protected. And I’m thinking myself while I was there, wait, so you claim is between sovereignty is not protected, but Russia is money and in western central banks is protected. And, and I had lots of meetings here and the foreign office and they just poo pooed it. I mean, it was ridiculous how they push back. And the same thing happened in the US. Same thing happened Canada, and boy did the same thing happen in the EU. And, um, but I kept at it. And I’ve been there before. And I’ve done this before when I first started talking about the Magnitsky Act. Everyone said, that’s impossible. You can’t freeze individuals’ assets who are involved in human rights abuses, how can we do that that’s never been done before. And, and I kept on hammering away and hammering away and the people who were opposing, it started to disappear. And the people who started support, it started to appear, and eventually 35 countries have the Magnitsky Act. So, I just kept on hammering away, Kira kept on hammering away. And what’s interesting is that, and this is something that I always believed from the very beginning of this whole thing is that the economic reality of the whole situation will overcome whatever bureaucratic resistance. And as it became, as the as this war, which everybody thought was going to be over in three months, maybe six months at the longest, or nine months, you know, two years into, it was still going on. And there’s still a lot of, and there’s a hell of a lot of money that needs to be spent on this war. And so, as this conversation has gone on, the tone has changed. And what’s been most interesting to me, was that I had an opportunity to, I was going around, one of my projects here in the UK, was I wanted to get all previous Prime Ministers to sign a letter to the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to say that the money, this money should be confiscated. And I was able to set up meetings with all the previous Prime Ministers and I had an opportunity since they’re all previous prime ministers, they have more time on their hands, the current prime minister, and I got an hour with each of them. And I pitched them on this idea that we should confiscate the money. And I went through the arguments about why it’s just why it’s morally right. Why it’s politically right, and why it’s financially Right. And, and one of the people I pitched was David Cameron, the former prime minister. And then I pitched him, you know, at a time when he didn’t have 1000 bureaucrats around him all its you know, trillion trying, trying to take it away from him, whatever he was thinking about. And I made my case, and I made it, I think I made it persuasively and, and for, you know, to our luck, he became the foreign secretary. And, and not only did he become the foreign secretary, but the policy of the British government changed when he came in. And all of a sudden, he started to promote this idea. And at the most recent Davos, he was at the Davos, saying that he thinks it’s both it because he thinks it’s right, morally, financially, and politically said those same, those same exact words. And, and then Janet Yellen, the US Treasury Secretary, has been pushing it. And Chrystia Freeland, the funding finance minister of Canada has been pushing it. And so, it very much reminds me of, of how the Magnitsky Act progressed. It also reminds me of how the other the discussion about tanks and long-range missiles and fighter jets progressed at once it is possible, and maybe and then a few people went forward and then everyone. And so now we’re in the situation where I think that more or less the main countries of the g7 agree to this, but the main holdout is sort of Europe, I would say Europe’s only the g7 but Europe and it’s being held back by Germany, to a certain extent, Germany, who is also holding back the tanks and the missiles and they continue to hold back some missiles right now. I don’t think this is Belgium that’s the bottleneck. Even though the money is in Belgium, I think that they’re not really a player in this I think the Germans are the ones holding it back. And my prediction for what it’s worth is that we’ll just like the tanks and the and the long-range missiles in the Jets, the Germans will eventually cave on their resistance this whole thing at the moment we have this big dysfunction everyone’s coming up with these like alternative fancy plans, like the fancy plan out of the EU as well. It’s not right to seize all the money, but we can take some of it will take the interest. And by the way, the Belgians want to keep some of the interests with the Ukrainians with some of the interests. And then somebody and I’m sure it’s not Lord Cameron, but somebody in the foreign office came up with the idea. Well, you know, we’re not sure about the legality of this. So, so why don’t we do uses money as a loan. People should lend money to Ukraine, and it’ll be backed by this. This is collateral, it’s like, I’m a finance guy. And if the money either you have the money or you don’t have the money, and so this collateral thing is not it’s so everybody is kind of trying to thread some needle and sort of tie that, you know, negotiate with themselves with their hands tied behind their backs. Ultimately, we’re in a situation where if Ukraine doesn’t get the money, and I and that’s one of the only places where we disagree is I don’t think that should be for the reconstruction, because I don’t think there’s going to be a reconstruction of Ukraine. Ms. Crane defends itself and they’re running out of money, they’re running out of bullets, and if they don’t have enough money to fight off the Russians, there will be no Ukraine. And so, this money needs to be used for the defence of Ukraine, we can worry about reconstruction later. And, and for the defence of Ukraine, they need money. Wars are a resource, that there’s all about resources. And Russia has got 10 times more than 10 times they have infinitely more resources, Ukraine because Ukraine doesn’t have any resources. And, and Ukraine needs this needs money for this war. And, and it’s becoming you know, we’re fighting right now about whether the US Congress is going to free up the 63 billion. I think they will. I think that it’s the resistance from Mike Johnson, and not even the US Congress, Mike Johnson, just that, like Mike Johnson, who is the speaker of the House of Representatives, is, is in individually blocking the aid for Ukraine. He’s the one who who’s blocking the vote, he can decide whether there’s a vote or not, he’s blocking the vote. Why is he doing it because the person who got him into that job, former President Donald Trump told him to do so he’s blocking the vote. I think that the pressure is now becoming too great. And he will allow that vote when the vote goes through that money will be released. But if former President Donald Trump becomes president again, and he’s trying to block this aid for Ukraine, I can’t imagine that he’s going to, he’s going to be the one advocating for sending more money to Ukraine. And so, in my mind, it makes it even more urgent to confiscate this money, because this may be the difference between Ukraine existing and not existing, if US pulled out if Donald Trump is elected, and if he pulls out of Ukraine, in terms of financial support. Europe does not have the money by itself unless they take this money. And so, I would, I would describe this money as Donald Trump insurance. More than anything. Thank you. Thank you.


Kira Rudik 27:34

Thank you very much, Bill. on the matter of the US elections and potential threat to Ukraine, I would like to add, that we’ve heard many statements from one of the candidates, Donald Trump, that he will be able to fix the matter very quickly and agree with Russia. So, the risks that we see is that the money that are being frozen right now can be used somehow, as a negotiating matter or a bid that you will be using to talk to Vladimir Putin. This is why one of the directions that we want to take is to make sure that money something is done to the money the way that it they cannot be unfrozen and return to Russia in any case, and when we are talking about this with different European leaders and saying, like, what’s going to happen, if at some point, the United States will like switch their policy or position like, what are they going to do they start thinking about the US elections, there’s a certain deadline of before, beforehand, and they need to take some actions. And it’s, again, it’s all of you have been friend for a long time. And it’s two years that we are constantly saying that what we actually need to win the war, it’s nothing new. Absolutely nothing new. It’s weapons, ammunition, long range, missiles, tanks, fighter jets. And it’s so obvious that to win the war, you need to have that the military possess the military capacity to do that. And what we need right now is to speed up because the situation is changing. It’s changing for the good thing, as well, when people really start to come along, but the changing for the bad thing as well, because they’re, everybody’s right now in the electoral cycle. United States are concentrated on the elections, European Union right now is concentrated on the elections as well. And people are dying in Ukraine every single day. And the truth is that we do not have the capacity, not only to continue actively fighting back, but to defend people in the peaceful cities who go back every day from work, and they don’t know if they’re going to wake up in the morning because this is when their missile attacks happen. And we do not have the capacity of the air defence systems to tell people the simple thing you go to see If we can make sure that you will not die in your sleep one, when they will miss allocate your home. And this is absolutely terrifying. And I want everyone to remember that every single day that being lost in those discussions and negotiations, it cost somebody their life. And it is absolutely terrifying.

Dr Alan Mendoza 30:19

I’m going to ask you about the question, and then I’m going to open up to everyone here. And we’ve got some questions already on online care. The question to you is, obviously, the war is as we think it was two years old already. Although Vladimir Putin has not enjoyed the success he initially hoped, of course, in that it is true, I think, to say that he has retooled quite significantly, and the Russian military machine is in probably as good a state as it’s been since the start of this conflict. Now, in terms of the supplies and things, maybe you can tell us a little bit about how that pressure is likely felt unless Ukraine gets support this year. And secondly, Bill, the biggest objection, as you pointed out already, is one you hear not annoying from the city. The idea is, well, if you start confiscating Russian money, nobody’s going to put their money into Western countries, because they can all think that you’re going to turn on them and take their money. So, what do you say to that? And then what do you want to get first? What do you get first?

Bill Browder 31:21

That is the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard. So, first of all, this this decision to confiscate the money is not going to be taken by the just by the UK and not by the US and not by the EU. Everyone’s going to do it together. And so, it’s all the major reserve currencies of the world decide to confiscate the money. And let’s say, let’s say somebody has the attitude that they that they feel like it’s not safe to keep your money in the City of London or in in the EU anymore. Where are they going to put their money. They’re not going to buy Iranian riyals. They’re not going to buy Argentine pesos, or Venezuela boulevards, or Brazilian rails, or I mean, there’s not the reason why these things are called reserve currencies. And the reason why Russia has their money there is that because that’s where you put your money. And so, the one huge elephant in the room is China. So, China exports a lot of stuff to the world, and they get paid a lot of foreign currency for the stuff that they export. And what does China do with that foreign currency, they don’t convert it back into their local currency, because if they did, it would push up the value of their local currency to a price level that in which they wouldn’t be competitive to export, they’ve got to keep their money offshore in other currencies. And so, either they their economy comes becomes uncompetitive, or they have to keep their money in reserve currencies. And so, they keep their money in reserve currencies, China watches this, and China is not going to take their money out of the UK. But I’ll tell you one thing that China might do is have some hesitation about invading Taiwan if they see what happens.

Dr Alan Mendoza 33:10

Exactly. That’s the lesson that really should be here that there is no alternative. And it’s about badly that sort of preventing future bad behaviour. Here are your thoughts on the on the sort of the resort in Russia and what this relates to the Ukrainian dependence.

Kira Rudik 33:24

So, what we have observed over the last two years, and we are the living proof off is that dictatorships wouldn’t stop unless they are stopped. And they will continue pushing and pressuring and kind of trying out the Western Allies to see like, if, if it’s possible to push a little bit more, and they will do everything will dissipate all the international laws. And again, we have the proofs of this, at every single point. Just it was yesterday, I think, or two days ago, when the Russian missiles actually travelled to across the border with Poland for 39 seconds. They have been to Poland and then turn back. And now the NATO has another question mark, question mark of what to do. And it is, as you have been telling people that Putin will do exactly that. This is exactly what we have been telling people that the at some point Putin will start seeing if it’s only Ukraine or Georgia that they could have invaded that maybe there is something else. He continues to kill journalists and his opposition and creating an absolute threat to people who can actually speak up. He can but on the other hand, he continues trying out to where the where are the limitations of the rule of law that the West can handle? And the main point there is the sanctions. So just imagine right now, two years into the sanction’s regime. Russia is still able to manufacture weapons and supplies, missiles, everything that they need, yes, maybe they pay a little bit more. And it gets a little bit more complicated for them to do that. But they still are able to manufacture them. And every time our soldiers disassemble the missiles, they see the Western particles there. Moreover, they are buying those weapons from Iran and from North Korea, and how is it possible Iran has been under sanctions for a long time right now. Right? So is this means that the Western allies need to take very precise attention that was going on and who is disobeying the law. And it will be a never-ending story, if not only the support for Ukraine will grow, but actually, the sanctions will be strict and actually work properly. Otherwise, Russia will just continue ramping up their production of the missiles. And they will be continuing sending that not only our way, but all the way that they would figure out it’s a matter of the existence of Putin’s regime that he is able to continue to grow the Empire. And they have not been like, not making this a secret, right? They have been very open about that. The treasure needs to expand recently, I think it was an individual, someone who was asked like where the borders are. No, it was Putin, who was asked where the borders of the Russia and he said Russia has no borders. I think it’s like a huge threat to the European Union. huge threat to NATO and to G7. Again, he’s like just saying this. And I think we are speaking a lot and talking a lot about what happens if Ukraine wins when Ukraine wins. So, what should we do for Ukraine to win, but we are not talking enough about what would happen if Ukraine lost. I don’t want to think about this, because it would mean the end of the existence of our nation’s and it’s a terrifying picture. But I think for everyone to keep this in mind, would be a very good pressure on to making the right decisions, ASAP. And not at some point, Russia will get an enormous amount of the resources, Russia will have the control of all our agricultural capacity, Russia will show the whole world and every single time irony that you can disobey, and you can commit all kinds of the war crimes, you can go ahead and do whatever you want. And there would be absolutely no repercussion to that, and that the response from all of us will be really, really not enough to stop the authoritarian regime. On the first of all, I don’t want to think about what would happen to our people, because we know that we have made this choice to fight back. And we continue making this choice every single day and fighting back. But over and over, I want to repeat that we cannot fight empty handed. And the difference in the military capacity is still huge. And we have the ammunition shortage. And it’s again, we are not hiding this information. It’s very clear, especially when you come into the front. And it’s another important matters that they wanted to share, that we can be talking about many political things. But every time I come back from my international work, business trips, back to Ukraine, I go to the front, and I talk to our soldiers. And it’s impossible to explain what’s going on in the political level to people who are fighting every single day, it’s impossible to explain to them what’s happening in Congress, it’s impossible to say like what’s going on was there in Germany about the missiles you have to slow this down, say like this is coming that we are working, we are doing our part. And the truth is, it’s our part as politicians as all the citizens to make sure that people who are risking their life every single day that they have the means to do that. They need to fight back. So, it’s very hard with them, so called War fatigue. And I don’t like to call it that. I think that the main matter is to say that it’s becoming the new normal. But we still need to have this wakeup call every single day that if Ukraine loses it will mean the end of their Western way of life. And this is true, because it will show that all the democratic build-up that we have had for the last centuries, it’s it was like, you know, remember this never again, thing. It was very painful for us in Ukraine. Hearing this never again, because it happened to us because there was so much of the appeasement of the dictatorship. And there is last thing. Recently, there have been so called sham elections in Russia. And we all know that it was not a democracy, right? There is nobody who would. Who would go and say, oh well, I think I think maybe he’s right. But we didn’t hear enough of the world leaders standing up and saying, well, we do not accept these elections, and we are not accepting Putin as a legitimate leader. And this I think is like the very normal and logical next step that one would expect from the Democratic leaders who stand for the democracy and free elections, saying, well, he was non hand shakeable beforehand. And he’s non hand shakeable right now, but that could make an additional take an additional pressure on those leaders from India, China, Brazil, the countries that are still taking certain neutrality and the matter of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.


Dr Alan Mendoza 40:32

I would agree with you here. And in fact, him addressing it did launch a paper two weeks ago on Putin is an illegitimate leader, after the election, and more people should be saying it’s, I quite agree, write some questions. And if you’d like to ask something, give us your name. And if you’re affiliated with some of that, yes, we’ll take you three.

Speaker 1 40:48

in terms of, of the amount of the assets, frozen, and everybody’s talking about the under 50 billion of these assets in Europe. But what about the 350 billion of assets on the western investors frozen in Russia? Right, which is basically the equivalent when you say we’re going to take the money from the Russian is no, really? Yes, correct. Is the Russia but rally you taking the money of the US investors, European investors, the aim is going to be the day after frozen in the Russia account it taken by the Russian. So, the point of the financial is resources is fine. But it’s a new point, because what are you going to take, they’re going to take? So, go back to the resources, what are the resources a Europe is putting against them against Russia, which is an infinite resource country, you in terms of that? So, what do you think is going to be the point when the European are going to start? What do you think about this stance of France and Macron saying they’re going to send people to look from when they’re going to really start to rally talking about funds start to send people to the front and do something real?

Speaker 2 42:15

Bill, the last time we spoke was at the Magnitsky awards about 18 months ago, and I asked you how confident you were that you were going to have these frozen assets seized and take to Russia, and you told me within five years 100% Where are you on that timeline? And what’s your confidence level? And Kira? Just sort of temperature check from you has the kind of reception you’re getting when you’re going to allies in the west and asking him about these funds? How do you feel like people are engaging with the issue? Do you feel like they’re switched on and on board? And if they’re not then who is standing in the way? The Germans were mentioned? Is there anyone else?

Speaker 3 42:54

Why do you think that sanctions regime Western sanctions regime is so weak that Iran can circumvent them in order to provide weapons to Russia, and to Bill Browder and to what extent do you think that financial punitive measures against Russia are effective bearing in mind that Russia measures power not in terms of GDP, but in 19th century terms of geographic conquest? They don’t mind having the fortress economy, it seems that finance financial punitive measures cannot deter Russia, sir. To what extent is, are you bashing your head against all in that respect?

Kira Rudik 43:46

The political part of that first question, first of all, on the matter of sending anybody to Ukraine, remember, we never asked for that. We are saying Ukrainians are able and fighting for our own country. We are not asking you to send anyone we are asking for the weapons. So, what so give that to us, and you will never have to send anybody off your citizens to fight in Ukraine. But I think that statement for President Macron was rather pushing forward the red lines for all the allies to help us with the tourist missiles and we are really happy because to sometimes to push Germans to make the right decisions. You have to say well, we are ready to go all the way. And there is actually a very funny thing that in Ukraine there has been exist after he made the statement it switched from feeling that a French president is rather than hesitant about things to him being like a super brave, super brave person and we have Ukrainians really like to create songs on things so now there are some words in the song, the way Macron was mentioned are changed to say like well, he changed and now he’s like, much more strong on supporting up So second, a second matter. And I’m sure Bill will comment on that from their financial side. But on the money that are being right now, and the companies that are still working in Russia, there has been at least two cases over the last two years, when the company’s money were confiscated, and leadership was arrested, without any warning without anybody confiscating them. So, the first was the non when they just decided to sign to resign it to cadet, Rob’s nephew, just like the whole company, for whatever reason is this. And the second was the current dark when they decided to leave them to leave Russia, they just detained their whole leadership and asked for, for a bribe, I think for a bribe to leave them. So, it was very much the Magnitsky story going on there. So, my question is from the other side, is how people who are still having their business in Russia can hope to get their money back there. It’s there is no rule of law, there is no like, their only chance of losing more than their second question about the engagement of the allies. You know, the truth? Is, there have been changes in from saying, no, no, no, to Yes, we are working on that. But when somebody is telling No, it’s quite a challenge, but it’s obvious challenge to change them to a yes. And right now, when everyone is telling us, oh, yes, we are working on this, we are just looking for the legal solution, it’s hard for me to determine like, well, we are in the process of this confiscation, however, and you know, the feeling from people from politicians is still there, still the same. Every time I visit London, I have a special check to make, I go to number 10. And check if there is a Ukrainian flag there. And it’s still there. And today, Christina, my head of PR, and I was like because this string, and we got to the train, we were all soaking wet. And we went there to check, and it’s there. So, it means a lot. And this is actually the story that I tell at the trenches to the soldiers when they are asking me what the story is, how the things are going. And I’m showing them on my phone and saying, look, you see, this is like one of the most important buildings, and they’re still there. And this is very important, even more than you can honestly imagine. Okay, on the sanction’s regime. So as a vice president of Alliance of liberals and Democrats, we are working right now to make sure that the next European Parliament and European Commission will dedicate a special person who will be in charge of the United EU sanctions, because what we have seen beforehand is that the rules are very vague, and they are for everyone. And it means that everyone is trying to figure something out. And it needs to be first of all unified and then to make sure that they are not approached by the like, every single line, but they approached by the concept that the first question that I’m asking, like my German colleagues is, isn’t suspicious that they a trade with Kazakhstan has increased like two and a half times over the last two years? Like, what’s going on? Like, what’s the political or the economic reason for that, and it’s absolutely obvious, this is the way how the sanctions are being overpass. So we need, we need to be looking not in like, Okay, we have this bill, because I could count the sanctions should look like and that we should go and make sure that everybody’s excuse that we need to look at the facts and make sure that it’s a good example of the sanctions working is the air aeroplane details industry, because you have probably seven or eight companies that actually manufacturing this particles of the aeroplanes. And it was easy to have this agreement that the sanctions would work there. And this is why Russia really is suffering in the matter. You have heard couple of news that the Russian planes were going down it not it was not as it was because they were malfunctioning there because they were not able to replace certain details, certain parts. So, this is like showing that when the market is pretty limited, the sanctions could work, and they actually work. But right now, I would say that this is like you know, a direction that needs a restructuring and needs somebody being responsible for that. And we do not have a single person organisation that will take on their responsibility to make sure that like it’s actually working. When we can say like, look, we see this. Can you like what can we do about that? So, we really hope that this year after all the political elections will get settled down, the new European Parliament would get along and then there would be like new, new, or existing leadership. Then we can sit again discuss that and have somebody appointed Thanks.

Bill Browder 50:02

So basically, what’s happening right now is that this idea that somehow, we’re going to lose our stuff in Russia, it’s already losing our stuff in Russia. And so, it for us to like, with to not grab their money, because we’re worrying about losing the stuff that they’re going to steal whether we do that or not, I think is a nonstarter if and furthermore, all these Western companies shouldn’t have been in Russia in the first place. Should we sacrifice or compromise European security? And because some companies decided to take big risks, financial risks, and to go into Russia? I don’t think so. On the timeline question. Well, I mean, I think I was being too conservative. Five years from what it was five years from two years ago. I mean, we’ve already started to see the first bits. So, 2 billion from the from the money that’s held at the European at the Euro clear has already been sent to Ukraine. And so, but I think that in terms of the overall in terms of the grabbing the whole thing, I think we’re probably 18, you know, within 18 months, we’ll see something like that happen. I think that the economic pressure is going to become so great that that will be that that’s where we’ll be making specific time predictions, I’m sure is good for Daily Mail. on this question of financial sanctions, do they work? They’re working great. First of all, that this whole session that we’re having right now is about one of the sanctions where we come where we froze $300 billion, that was a sanction. Now we’re talking about confiscating it. And let me tell you, if we take that money, that is going to be not just good for Ukraine. But I mean, the biggest knocks to Putin, I mean, it’s, you know, in terms of warfare, that in terms of financial warfare, he cares about this money more than he cares about 500,000 soldiers. And so that would be a huge knock to him. But moreover, what if we say, well, well, we’re doing all these sanctions, we’re sanctioning oligarchs, we’re freezing their money, we’re doing all this and that, why hasn’t he stopped the war? Well, he’s not going to stop the war, maybe he’s not going to stop the war under any circumstances. Because if he stops the war, he ends up losing power. I mean, if he loses power, he ends up going to jail and died. And so, he’s not going to stop the war. The only way we can make him stop the war, is if he doesn’t have the money to fight the war. And that means not just sanctions in places where it’s convenient for us, but sanctions in places where it’s not convenient for us. And the place is not convenient for us is to do an oil embargo of Russia, if we stopped them selling their oil, they wouldn’t have any more money to fight the war. But if we stopped them selling their oil, then we have to find another oil supplier in the world to pick up the slack. And to do that, it requires some pretty heavy lifting. And so far, we haven’t been able to figure that out. And so, at the moment, Putin sells us oil, gets his money, buys weapons kills Ukrainians, and then we got to give money to Ukraine to fight back, we could just stop it by Latin by disallowing him to sell the oil.

Dr Alan Mendoza 53:32

I’m just going to get a couple of questions in for those watching out but one is about overland powers and give given the British firms have ensured over 120 Euro billion euros worth of Russian oil since the outbreak of the war. Isn’t that a problem that we’re not taking it that seriously. So, you talk about the oil in that way, and we’re ensuring the event?

Bill Browder 53:49

I was at a briefing in the House of Lords where we were talking about how to make sanctions more effective. And one of the things we discussed was that we should sanction any insurance company that insures Russian oil and that would seriously muck up their ability to export oil because insurance company insurance ships take on the oil nobody who owns $100 million ship is going to want to have that ships uninsured and there are these sort of whatever, Phantom or shadow tankers out there that are like 40 years old that the Russians have bought, and they’re going to go with or without insurance, but I don’t think that they’re big enough to transport all the oil that Russia wants to transport and at the moment, we’re busy, you know, being as aggressive as we want to be on certain sanctions and then just letting them sell their oil. And that’s got to stop, and we’ve got to figure that out. And at the moment, nobody’s even talking about that.

Dr Alan Mendoza 54:47

Another quick one for you. And then one for you, Kira, then we’ll finish. Are there any assets of Putin’s personally, there’s obviously something we’ve been a long subject of interest that could be seized.

Bill Browder 54:59

Here’s the thing is that Putin doesn’t keep a lot of stuff in his own name. He keeps all the stuff in the names of oligarchs, who, by the way, we’re sanctioning. And so, when we sanction all these oligarchs, we’re sanctioning Putin, which is very good. And he’s saying all these sanctions, they don’t matter. I don’t care. He cares profoundly. He cares. Absolutely. Profoundly. And, and we’ve been grabbed his yacht in the Scheherazade in Italy, that was a yacht that was given to Putin by a bunch of oligarchs. Yes, we go after the oligarchs we go after Putin.

Dr Alan Mendoza 55:34

Kira, here is the question for you. One, is, let’s assume Ukraine suddenly did get a slug of money right now. It’s not the money, instead of a military capacity in the West to actually supply the arguments Ukraine needs.

Kira Rudik 55:47

No and yes. So yes, there are certain things that we can’t buy for money, for example, Patriot missiles, and Patriot missile systems. This is something where we need their political decision by the United States to send this over and dedicate a certain amount of money from their budget. By the way, when we are talking about 60 billion that is stuck in the Congress write down, I don’t think too many people understand that they’re not going to be like cool and sent to Ukraine, they’re basically going to remain in the United States being sent to different factories. So, generally, but there is another mentioned in another programme that is going on, our good friend, in check, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Czech Republic is helping out on the matter, when we were looking for the ammunition in the whole world, it seemed that there is no way to buy it. But then check your Baldric somehow figured out how to make certain deals. And now they’re just gathering money, it’s 100 million, maybe a little bit more on buying ammunition and sending it over to Ukraine. So, money can buy ammunition at certain points. Of course, there’s lots of politics involved. But you know, for, for the matter of exhausting all of our options in purchasing all kinds of ammunition that we need all kinds of weapons of kinds of supplies, and particles for the fighter jets, everything that we need to protect our people and to win the war. We need those money.

Dr Alan Mendoza 57:39

Thank you. That reminds me, based on what you were just saying, Donald Trump, if you’re listening, you can make the American defence industry great again by sending Russian money to fund American defence and this sort of way it works. You know, it makes sense. Right. Kira, thank you so much for your thoughts on what initially seems a complex subject. But actually, as you unravel it, it becomes clearer and clearer that the answer is actually fairly simple as to how to resolve this particular problem. I think we won’t need to have another meeting about what to do with the assets because in the time between the next time we meet, it would be resolved and thank you all for being here as well and online. We will see you again very soon. Thank you.


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