Canada urged to set up trust fund to distribute seized Russian assets to Ukraine

By Steven Chase

The following is an excerpt from an article published in The Globe and Mail.

A refugee advocacy group chaired by former Liberal foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy is proposing a trust fund be created to redistribute seized Russian assets to Ukrainians as allies of Kyiv make plans for rebuilding the war-damaged country.

The World Refugee & Migration Council, chaired by Mr. Axworthy, wants to encourage widespread adoption of this scheme. The proposal was outlined in a paper on the eve of a Ukraine Recovery Conference in London, where allies are mobilizing support for reconstruction in the European country. In March, the World Bank estimated the cost of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine has grown to US$411-billion.

Mr. Axworthy said proponents of the plan hope to mobilize international support for turning over the proceeds of seized Russian assets to Ukraine in the same way that Canada garnered global backing in 1990 for its campaign to eradicate the use of landmines.

“It’s a Robin Hood proposition,” he said. “You take from the Sheriff of Nottingham who was putting people in jail, and you give it to the people who were affected by this.”

The council is proposing Canada establish a trust — it suggests naming it the Canadian Ukrainian Social Impact Reconstruction Trust Fund — to manage the money raised by the sale of Russian assets. Mr. Axworthy says he hopes other countries will adopt the idea as well.

“The Canadian model has to be replicated in a larger collaboration to make it work.”

Ms. Freeland’s office said it’s carefully considering what the World Refugee & Migration Council and others have proposed.

“Sanctions are a key part of Canada’s response to Russia’s illegal and barbaric full-scale invasion of Ukraine, as they are for our partners and allies,” press secretary Katherine Cuplinskas said.