Timothy Ash: The West is more concerned about Russian taxpayers than its own

March 13,2024 901
Timothy Ash: The West is more concerned about Russian taxpayers than its own

Western governments and political leaders prioritize Russian taxpayers over their own, says Timothy Ash, a British economist covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Instead of using frozen Russian assets to pay off Ukraine’s debt, the West attempts to do “burden sharing” among its own countries.

Interesting as we head towards possible talks around private sector debt relief for Ukraine, buzz words like “burden sharing” come to mind. … But the elephant in the room herein is that the West is shouldering ALL the burden, and there is ZERO burden sharing being applied to Russia. How come the G7/IMF are talking about Paris Club and private sector debt relief for Ukraine, and actually writing big dollar and euro cheques for Ukraine, while Russian assets – the $300bn plus in Western jurisdictions are being left untouched?” Ash writes.

The West is doing everything to protect Russian assets, says the journalist. Meanwhile, Western taxpayers and creditors (pensioners) bear the burden on Russia. “Everyone bears the burden apart that is from Russia. How weird is that,” writes Ash.

Ash argues that one of the arguments against the confiscation of Russian assets abroad is that Russia might retaliate by doing the same with Western assets on its territory. “Ok, but those Western companies who did business in Russia, invested in Russia, knew the risks. They reaped huge rewards/profits for taking Putin’s forty pieces of silver. They got the investment call wrong. Why should Western tax payers, and Western pensioners/creditors, pay the price for these greedy Western companies’ bad investment calls,” writes Ash.

Similarly, the Belgian bank Euroclear, which currently serves as the depository for the assets of the Russian central bank, has been profiting from managing these funds for many years. “I would argue that was a bad investment decision – again, why should Western tax payers and creditors now have to shoulder all the burden to protect the business interests of Euroclear, which made good profits on Russian business in the run up to the invasion?” says the economist.

If the risks are indeed serious, the West should change its legislation to protect its financial institutions. “All this raises big issues around equity. Our governments seem to put Russian taxpayers above their own. Our governments seem to put Russian taxpayers above their own pensioners – holders of Ukrainian debt. Our governments seem to put greedy Western companies who invested too long and wrong in Russia against their own tax payers and pensioners,” Ash writes.

The defense of Ukraine should be a common good for the West since Ukraine is defending Western liberal market democracy. “But how about getting Russia to bear some of the burden? Russia is absolutely and totally responsible for this war. All I see are excuses by our policy elites to actually avoid getting Russia to pay for its brutal invasion of Ukraine, war crimes and genocide against Ukraine. We have $300 billion plus of immobilised Russian central bank assets (cash) in our jurisdictions – how about using it first?” Ash concluded.

Cover: BlueBay Asset Management LLP

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