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Russia seeks to transfer some frozen assets to global climate fund, out of reach of Ukraine's rebuilders

COP28 meeting. (Photo by United Nations)

Russia is looking for ways to transfer a portion of its frozen reserves to a global fund meant to offset damage from climate change to the world's poorer nations, the country's climate envoy said at the ongoing COP28 United Nationals climate summit in Dubai.

"We are ready to announce that Russia is looking into the voluntary contribution of finance to the loss and damage fund from the frozen national gold reserves held by international organisations," said Ruslan Edelgeriev, Russia's climate representative, Reuters reported. "It is a step dictated by the need to close the gap between developing and developed countries."

The move, although unlikely to be accepted, would prevent the European nations that hold most of the frozen reserves from using the money for other purposes, such as the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Some $280 billion in frozen Russian assets, including the gold reserves mentioned by Edelgeriev, have been held by Western nations since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of last year. Most of it is held at Belgian clearing house Euroclear.

While many of Ukraine's allies want the money used to help rebuild the country, a project likely to cost hundreds of billions of dollars, others say the permanent confiscation of such assets would threaten the reserve currency status of the euro and the dollar as other countries fear the West could seize their reserves as well.

Russia's latest move is also apparently calculated to maximize discomfort among those European nations who promote both climate change funding and Ukraine's reconstruction.

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