The Kremlin announced on Wednesday that it may confiscate additional Western assets in response to actions taken against Russian companies, after temporarily seizing assets belonging to two European state-owned utilities.
President Vladimir Putin signed a decree late Tuesday, placing the Russian assets of Finland’s Fortum and Germany’s Uniper, both operating power plants in Russia, under Moscow’s control.
Uniper stated that it was examining the measures taken against its Russian subsidiary, Unipro. Fortum revealed that it was investigating the situation and had learned from its Russian subsidiary that the company’s CEO had been replaced and the unit placed under temporary asset management.
A spokesperson for Germany’s Finance Ministry, which oversees the government’s ownership of Uniper, indicated that Berlin needed to evaluate the concrete implications of Russia’s decree.
Finland’s outgoing minister responsible for state holdings, Tytti Tuppurainen, tweeted that the information was concerning and that the state, as Fortum’s majority owner, would closely monitor the situation.
Moscow has responded negatively to reports that the Group of Seven nations are considering a near-total ban on exports to Russia, while many have urged for stricter sanctions to limit Russia’s capacity to engage in conflict in Ukraine.
Additionally, the European Union is exploring the possibility of using frozen Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine. Last year, Germany nationalized a former division of Russian energy giant Gazprom.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the decree is a reaction to the aggressive actions of hostile countries and reflects Western governments’ approach toward foreign assets of Russian companies.
Peskov further explained that Putin’s decree does not address property issues or deprive owners of their assets, as external management is temporary and only means that the original owner no longer has the authority to make management decisions.
He added that the primary objective of the decree is to establish a compensation fund for potential reciprocal measures in response to the unlawful expropriation of Russian assets abroad.