1 of 2 | Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters Sunday that a massive $33 billion aid package for Ukraine will include provisions to seize and sell the U.S.-based assets of Russian oligarchs. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
May 1 (UPI) -- Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that the massive $33 billion Ukraine aid package that President Joe Biden last week called on Congress to pass will include provisions to seize and sell the assets of Russian oligarchs and to send the proceeds to Kyiv.
"This is the kind of stuff we are talking about: Yachts. Mansions," Schumer said during a press conference, while holding up pictures of the luxuries to reporters. "These oligarchs with the aid of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin have become extremely wealthy and bought these types of assets, which are here in the United States.
"There's no reason that Putin's viciousness and these ill-gotten gains should just stay the way they are when Ukraine desperately needs the money and it comes directly from Putin helping the Oligarchs."
The United States and its allies have repeatedly sanctioned Russia since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, which launched a war that has resulted in nearly 3,000 civilians killed and nearly 5.5 million forced to flee the country, according to United Nations data.
Amid the two-month-old war, Russian oligarchs have become a focus of the punitive measures as the United States and democratic governments seek to put pressure on Putin by squeezing those in his inner circle.
On top of the billions the United States has already given Ukraine, Biden on Thursday called on Congress to pass an additional $33 billion emergency package for Kyiv to support its "fight for freedom."
Currently, the U.S. government does not have the power to go after the U.S.-based assets of Oligarchs, which is why the Biden administration has called on Congress to pass legislation for the authority to do so.
"Ukraine needs the help," Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday. "But it's time for sanctioned Russian oligarchs to be held accountable for the ill-gotten wealth that they have received and to give the money to the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian government who desperately need it."
The provisions would create a streamlined administrative process to seize the assets and send the proceeds from their sale directly to Ukraine, as well as establish a new criminal offense for knowingly and intentionally possessing proceeds obtained from corrupt dealings with the Russian government.
Schumer said "a whole bunch" of Russian oligarch-owned assets are located in his state, New York, as some of the sanctioned Russians have invested in real estate there.
Worldwide, dozens of yachts have been seized by REPO Task Force member countries and the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned vehicles and aircraft valued at more than $1 billion.
"But there's a lot more, and in many instances our government doesn't have the power to seize these assets" Schumer said. "That is what we intend to give them."
Lyubov Ivanovna Vlasenko, 70, (L) and her husband Gennady Ivanovich Sergeev, 74, eat lunch in the basement-turned bunker moments after Russian artillery landed approximately 800 meters away in the Pyatikhatki district, of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo