Switzerland Freezes Billions In Russian Assets Over Ukraine Invasion


Swiss authorities have apparently frozen over $6 billion worth of Russian assets because of sanctions imposed in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine. The exact worth of seized Russian assets that’s been revealed by a Swiss official is about 5.75 billion Swiss francs, which works out to $6.17 billion. On Thursday, Erwin Bollinger, who serves at Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), said: “Today, for the first time, I can give you an indication of the amount of frozen funds. To date, SECO has been notified of funds and assets totaling around 5.750 billion Swiss francs.” Assets that have been taken under government control include multiple resort properties. One seized property was what Reuters describes as a “luxury mountain home” in the apparent possession of Russian oligarch Petr Aven, who’s involved with Russia’s biggest private banking institution, Alfa Bank.

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, but it has adopted EU sanctions that have been imposed in response to the war in Ukraine. Bollinger added that “the cited number of far over 5 billion francs relates to a snapshot in time… With further reports coming in and potential additions to EU sanctions lists, which Switzerland would also assume, it is likely this number will rise further.” Bollinger’s agency, Reuters notes, “has faced criticism for being underprepared and understaffed to handle the reports swamping the agency, even as journalists quiz officials over further assets likely slipping through the cracks.” Bollinger responded to criticisms by insisting that officials “can’t just go on a fishing expedition and collect material from every government department… Not every sanctioned individual or entity has assets in Switzerland… And, on the other hand, not every Russian who holds assets in Switzerland is simultaneously on the sanctions lists.”

In other news, the Biden administration recently announced sanctions on over 300 members of the lower chamber of Russia’s national legislature, bringing the total number of interests inside Russia targeted by U.S. sanctions connected to the war in Ukraine to over 600. Four dozen Russian government-owned defense enterprises were also newly placed under U.S. sanctions. In addition, the Biden administration announced that “G7 leaders and the European Union will continue to work jointly to blunt Russia’s ability to deploy its international reserves to prop up Russia’s economy and fund Putin’s war, including by making clear that any transaction involving gold related to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation is covered by existing sanctions.” Seizures in the U.S. of Russian assets haven’t dominated the Biden administration’s response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but the Justice Department recently stated that U.S. law enforcement had provided information to officials in other countries that helped with certain asset seizures — although the department didn’t specify which seizures that it meant.

As for the course of the war in Ukraine, tactical victories for Ukraine’s side haven’t stopped the travesties suffered by Ukraine’s population, — it’s come out that some 300 people are believed to have died in a Russian strike on a theater that had been used in the besieged city of Mariupol as a shelter. The Russian word for children had been written in large letters on the ground outside the theater in an attempt to keep it from getting struck. Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko stated this past Tuesday that “Kherson’s 300k citizens face a humanitarian catastrophe owing to the Russian army’s blockade. Food and medical supplies have almost run out, yet Russia refuses to open humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians.” And in Mariupol, deaths from starvation and fatalities associated with lack of necessary medicines have been recorded.