As advocates for free societies everywhere, the Renew Democracy Initiative applauds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for moving the REPO for Ukrainians Act forward. This bipartisan bill advances American interests and democratic values by turning billions of dollars in frozen Russian assets into a resource for Ukrainian victory over authoritarian aggression.
In our independent report, Making Putin Pay, we clearly outline that U.S. law and international legal precedent already empower President Biden to seize and transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine. However, in light of both the executive branch’s reluctance to move decisively on the issue of Russian asset transfer and the urgency of Ukraine’s needs, we commend the Foreign Relations Committee’s leadership through legislative action.
“The president already has the ability to transfer frozen Russian assets,” affirmed Laurence Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of Making Putin Pay. “ But if passing the REPO Act increases the chances of the White House taking this on, that’s great—so long as no amendments dilute the bill’s purpose or weaken the executive branch’s hand.”
RDI urges the Senate to pass the REPO for Ukrainians Act and the House to pass its companion legislation. This must be done without any modifications that would water down the U.S. government’s ability to put frozen Russian assets toward Ukraine’s war effort and reconstruction or measures that condition American foreign policy on the consent of foreign governments.
On top of the frozen funds held in the United States, our democratic partners in Europe and around the world have frozen hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian assets. With American leadership, our allies can join us in making Putin foot the bill for his invasion of a free and sovereign state.
“This is not only about doing what’s right, but about defending U.S. interests and the freedom that we all cherish.” Uriel Epshtein, CEO of the Renew Democracy Initiative, added. “Congress and the administration have waited for far too long. The time to act is now.”