Estonia parliament backs using frozen Russian assets for Ukraine reparations

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By Andrius Sytas

TALLINN (Reuters) - Estonia's parliament has approved a proposal allowing the use of frozen Russian assets to pay compensation for war damage in Ukraine.

Last week European Union ambassadors agreed to use windfall profits from Russian central bank assets frozen in the EU for Ukraine's defence. The decision could be formally adopted next week.

"We took a big step towards creating a precedent Europe could follow," Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said.

The Group of Seven countries (G7) froze around $300 billion worth of Russian financial assets soon after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Since then, the EU and other G7 countries have debated how and whether to use the funds to help Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said the U.S. intends to use its power to seize Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine, and is working with G7 to establish this.

Two thirds of 101-member Estonian parliament supported the law, it said in a statement.

The Estonian law would allow frozen assets of individuals and companies which contributed to Russian illegal actions to be used as "an advance payment for the damages Russia owes Ukraine", the parliament said.

To do that, Estonia would need to receive a request to use the assets, the connection of their owner to illegal acts must be sufficiently proven. The asset owner can challenge their use for Ukraine in Estonian courts.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Peter Graff)