Yellen Sees Efforts to Get Russia to Pay for Rebuilding Ukraine
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she expected Russia to help pay for rebuilding war-ravaged Ukraine, but stopped short of endorsing the use of frozen Russian assets for that purpose.
“The rebuilding costs, ultimately, in Ukraine are going to be enormous,” Yellen said at a press conference in Washington Thursday. “And certainly looking to Russia -- one way or another -- to help provide some of what’s necessary for Ukraine to build is something I think we ought to be pursuing.”
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the U.S. and European allies froze about half of the $640 billion in foreign-exchange reserves owned by Russia’s central bank. Yellen was asked whether that might be tapped.
The Treasury chief said it was unclear whether Russian assets could be seized without authorization from Congress, and it wasn’t a step the U.S. would take without consulting its allies.
“That is a very significant step, and it’s one we would carefully need to think through the consequences of before undertaking it. I wouldn’t want to do so lightly,” Yellen said.
American allies and partners would “need to feel comfortable with and be supportive of” such a move, she added.
The Kyiv School of Economics has estimated that damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure in the war had reached $80 billion as of April 11. It put total economic losses to Ukraine at $564 billion to $600 billion.
Yellen also repeated her stern words for China a week after warning Beijing its own international economic integration could be in jeopardy if it failed to heed the call for “resolute action on Russia.”
She said she wasn’t making any specific proposals, but said now is the time to stand up for the institutions and values of the global economic system.
“Not only the United States but many countries want to see China show that it understands the threats the global system faces because of China’s behavior and to show their own adherence to and appreciation of the values of that system,” she said.
“We’d be less trustful of China” if Beijing doesn’t cooperate, she said.
That loss of trust, she added, could play out as countries reconsider their trading networks and supply chains.
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