Ukraine claims a third of the foreign property of the former USSR

Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko said that Ukraine claims a third of the foreign property of the USSR, which, after its collapse, went to Russia. He said this in an interview with Suspilne.

Vadym Prystaiko is the Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK, ex-Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration of Ukraine, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, diplomat, and ex-deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. On July 4, 2020, the Verkhovna Rada dismissed Vadym Prystaiko from Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration of Ukraine. On July 20, 2020, President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed Vadym Prystaiko as Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UK.

“The story is very ancient. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia offered all the republics to forget about the debts [of the USSR], but it takes all the property of the Union around the world. Ukraine is the only republic that initially agreed but did not ratify the agreement. Our argument was as follows: we are not opposed if this is a fair agreement, just show what the Soviet Union owes and the assets around the world,” Prystaiko said.

Vadym Prystaiko

Russia never provided this information, so Ukraine is now forced to collect it bit by bit.

“Now we demand from Russia: you must return at least a third of what is abroad. In particular, the premises that are located [in the UK] and were illegal, in our opinion, registered to the Russian Federation,” Prystaiko said.

In 1994, an agreement was concluded between Ukraine and Russia on the settlement of issues of succession to the external public debt and assets of the former USSR. It assumed the so-called “zero option”: Russia assumes all the debts of the USSR, and the republics renounce their claims to any property of the USSR. Ukraine never ratified the agreement.

While Ukraine is sorting out whether this lawsuit will have a judicial perspective.

  • On July 9, the British newspaper The Times stated that Ukraine wants to sue 18 properties that Russia got after the collapse of the USSR. Among them is a 19th-century castle and the second largest building in London.
  • In 2014, the Foreign Ministry said that Ukraine was exploring the possibility of making claims for 16.37% of all assets of the USSR at the time of its collapse. Then it was not only about foreign property but also about the gold and foreign exchange reserves, the diamond fund, assets on debts that other states had to the USSR.

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