West ‘essentially stole’ Russia’s gold and currency reserves, Kremlin says

(Kitco News) Moscow said Western countries were using sanctions to steal its gold and currency reserves.

“In general, a lot of our assets have basically been stolen by specific Western countries,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday after being asked about a European Union proposal to transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine.

The proposal journalists referred to was an idea by European Council chief Charles Michel that the bloc should consider transferring frozen Russian reserves to Ukraine.

“These are absolutely illegal actions, they are against international law. It is an attack on public and private property… Making decisions like the ones you have spoken about [transferring Russia’s frozen assets to help Ukraine] will be a new step in the violation of all rules and norms of international law,” Peskov added.

The comment coincided with Russia’s eight-month invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Unprecedented Western sanctions introduced against Russia for its actions have frozen about half of Moscow’s $640 billion in gold and currency reserves.

Earlier this year, countries like the EU, US, UK, Canada, Switzerland and Japan also banned Russian gold imports. The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) suspended its accreditation of Russian refiners of precious metalsbanning them from selling new products in London.

Russia’s Finance Ministry said in August that the stock crippled Russia’s precious metals business and was a critical negative factor. This contradicts what many analysts have dubbed a largely symbolic gesture by the LBMA.

Last week, a Russian finance ministry official said Moscow was in talks with the Shanghai Gold Exchange to gain access to precious metals trading.

At the same time, Russian central bank deputy governor Aleksey Zabotkin told reporters that buying more gold to increase the country’s official reserves was counterproductive for Russia right now because it has increased the country’s money supply.

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