Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at the International Defense Industry Forum in Kiev. Photo/Telegram/Zelenskiy/Official
KIEV – President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Ukraine will create a new defense fund that includes confiscated Russian assets as one of its main funding sources.
“The move is aimed at providing additional resources to the authorities in Kiev to increase military production, create new defense programs and support the country’s troops,” Zelensky said, speaking Friday at the first International Defense Industry forum in the Ukrainian capital.
“The funds will be replenished with dividends from state defense assets and profits from the sale of confiscated Russian assets,” he explained.
The Ukrainian leader did not specify whether he was referring to Russia’s nearly $300 billion worth of gold and foreign exchange reserves that Western countries have frozen, or Russian property in Ukraine, which was confiscated following the launch of Moscow’s military operation in February 2022.
Russia has described blocking its assets in the West as “theft.” According to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov, “these actions are absolutely illegal and contrary to international law and constitute an encroachment on state and private property by the US and its allies.”
These funds will continue to be distributed even though there is a deficit of USD 24 billion in Ukraine’s budget in 2024.
Kiev is heavily dependent on funds provided by Western countries to carry out its functions.
In an article for Bloomberg earlier this week, Niall Ferguson, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said, “About 70% of Ukraine’s budget is covered by international aid.”
Zelensky also said at the forum that a Defense Industrial Alliance between Ukraine and foreign arms manufacturers, which seeks to “build the arsenal of the free world together with Ukraine,” had been formed.