Canada Poised to Redistribute Russian Assets to Help Rebuild Ukraine

Canada stands poised to seize US$26 million in assets from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and distribute the funds towards reconstruction efforts in Ukraine, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly said Monday.

Ukraine PMMinister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Mélanie Joly. (Photo: Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Wikimedia, License)She noted that Canada is the first G7 nation to implement asset forfeiture measures against the war’s enablers in order to hold them accountable for their actions.

In a press release by Global Affairs Canada, the government announced that it will commence a broader range of punitive actions against sanctioned oligarchs who have profited from the Kremlin’s authoritarian regime and have enabled Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“From the beginning of the war, we have warned Putin and his enablers that they would not be able to hide from the consequences of their actions” Joly said. “As Ukrainians continue to fight valiantly to reclaim the land that is rightfully theirs, we reaffirm our commitment to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

The first head on the chopping block is Roman Abramovich, widely recognized as the former owner of Chelsea Football Club and an ally of Putin. The US$26 million Canada will try to seize will come from Granite Capital Holdings Ltd., a firm owned by Abramovich.

Global Affairs Canada did not comment on the exact nature of these assets when asked by OCCRP.

The move comes seven months after Ottawa proposed the legislation that would enable parliament to redistribute frozen Russian assets to Ukraine on behalf of the war’s victims.

Meanwhile, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced last week that Canada will transfer CDN$115 million ($84.5 million) in tariff revenues, originally collected from Russian and Belarusian imports, to help repair Kyiv’s power grid.

“Putin and his henchmen are war criminals,” Freeland said. She added that the redistributed funds are intended to maintain Ukraine’s energy infrastructure as the country bunkers down to resist further Russian attacks during the difficult winter to come.

As the war enters its tenth month, Canada has levied sanctions against more than 1,500 individuals deemed to have benefitted or been complicit in the destruction that has befallen the Ukrainian people.

“Putin’s oligarchs are complicit in Russia’s illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine,” Freeland said. “Canada will not be a haven for their ill-gotten gains, and today’s announcement demonstrates our determination to ensure that Russia’s elites pay the price for their support of Putin’s brutal regime.”