Lavrov: Russia Will Respond to Asset Seizures
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov added that Moscow is already preparing to submit a request to the Russian courts to seize the assets of some foreign companies
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned Western nations that it doesn’t take kindly to the seizure of its foreign assets, and that any moves to do so will be dealt with reciprocally.
“Our response would be in kind. This is inevitable. This is the only way of acting in international affairs,” Lavrov said in an interview with RBK-TV.
Lavrov’s comments came in response to the attempted seizure of Russian state-owned assets in Belgium and France by former shareholders of Yukos, the oil giant that was forcibly broken up by Russian authorities due to unpaid taxes. Yukos’ ex-shareholders were reported to have hired bailiffs in the two countries in an effort to recoup damages awarded to them by an arbitration court in The Hague.
It’s still doubtful that the former Yukos shareholders will actually be able to take control of Russian assets, but Lavrov told RBK that Russia is already preparing to reciprocate.
“Our economic operators intend to submit a request to the Russian courts, in response to the unlawful actions against them to take the same action within the Russian Federation. That will be to arrest the property of foreign companies which manage state-owned assets,” Lavrov said.
But for now, Lavrov said Russia’s main priority is to have bank accounts owned by the Russian Embassy in Belgium “unfreezed”.
The decision to free diplomat’s accounts is absolutely “against the Vienna accords on foreign relations that guarantee the immunity of diplomatic assets, real estate and corresponding things,” Lavrov said. “Belgian foreign ministry officials are indicating to us that they were not aware of it, but we don’t accept these explanations.”
Shortly after Lavrov made his comments, presidential aide Andrei Belousov told RIA Novosti that Moscow “will challenge these decisions in France and Belgium, and in all countries”. Belousov said that the European Court of Human Rights had previously described the Yukos case ruling as a “controversial decision”.
“Everything that concerns the implementation of the Court’s judgment, and we believe a number of legal uncertainties were permitted, we will, of course, challenge them,” Belousov said.