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Von der Leyen wants profit from frozen Russian assets to pay for weapons for Ukraine, not reconstruction

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addressing the European Parliament on Wednesday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech to the European Parliament that profit generated from some $300 million in Russian assets frozen by Western nations should be used to buy weapons for Ukraine.

The comment deviates from the common position that such profits, predicted to total $15 billion over the next four years, should be used to repair war damage in Ukraine.

"It is time to start a conversation about using the windfall profits of frozen Russian assets to jointly purchase military equipment for Ukraine," von der Leyen said in a livestreamed plenary session of parliament on Wednesday. "There could be no stronger symbol and no greater use for that money than to make Ukraine and all of Europe a safer place to live."

She also announced in the speech that the European Commission will set up an "office for defense innovation in Kyiv."

"This will bring Ukraine ever closer to Europe and it will allow all EU member states to draw on Ukraine's battlefield experience and expertise in industrial defense innovation," she said, without offering further details of the office.

Earlier this month, the EU adopted a law that sets aside profit generated from interest and other sources on frozen Russian assets held inside the EU in a first step toward using those assets to benefit Ukraine.

The new law requires clearing houses, such as Everclear which holds most of the roughly $300 billion in Russian assets frozen after the invasion of Ukraine, to set aside profit generated on those assets.

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