The head of the North American Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Darchiev, said on Saturday that Moscow’s bilateral relations with Washington could be completely destroyed by any possible seizure of Russian assets by the United States.
Though it’s not quite clear which assets he was referring to, Darchiev warned the Americans of the detrimental consequences of such actions, noting that it will permanently damage bilateral relations, which is neither in US nor in Russia’s interests.
Darchiev also warned that diplomatic ties would be badly damaged and could even be broken if the United States declares Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.
Since Moscow sent on February 24 tens of thousands Russian troops into Ukraine under the pretext of special military operation, Russia has seen a sharp deterioration of its relations with the West, which has responded to Moscow’s actions with unprecedented economic, financial, and diplomatic sanctions.
As part of those measures, around half of Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves – worth near $640 billion before February 24 – has been frozen with top Western officials, including Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief, suggesting these frozen assets could be used to fund the future reconstruction of Ukraine.
According to the Biden administration, the EU and the US have also frozen $30 billion of assets – including yachts, helicopters, real estate and art – held by wealthy individuals with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A US prosecutor said in July that in an effort to pressure Moscow over its actions in Ukraine, the Department of Justice was seeking broader authority from Congress to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets.
According to Darchiev, American influence on Kyiv had increased to the degree that the US is increasingly becoming more and more a direct party in the conflict.