Alexander De Croo meets Volodymyr Zelenskyy: Belgium will use frozen Russian assets for Ukraine’s protection

Office of President of Ukraine

During his visit to Brussels, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, met with the Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo. The two leaders discussed their countries’ political, economic, and defense cooperation. Additionally, they talked about the preparation of new sanctions against Russia and how to prevent any attempts to bypass the already imposed restrictions. The parties also discussed freezing Russian assets and possibly using them to compensate Ukraine for the damage caused by Russian aggression.

Alexander De Croo reiterated Belgium’s support for Ukraine.

“Welcome dear President @ZelenskyyUa to Belgium. We stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the Prime Minister posted on X.

Using frozen Russian assets 

Belgium has pledged to support Ukraine through three ways: military assistance, effective economic sanctions, and a €1.7 billion Ukrainian fund. PM De Croo has announced that the Ukrainian fund will be established using the Russian assets frozen in Belgium. The fund will utilise the income tax revenues generated from these frozen assets to aid Ukraine and its citizens.

“It is important that Belgium has become the first country to launch such a practice of using frozen Russian assets for protection against Russian terror. The funds will be used for security assistance to our country and for fast recovery projects. We would really like to be able to use the funds right now. And the first 1.7 billion euros will be used as early as next year,” said President Zelenskyy.

Military assistance

President Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to the Belgians, the government, and personally to Alexander De Croo for the security, political, humanitarian, and economic assistance provided to Ukraine for protection against Russian terror.

“I thank Belgium for joining the coalition of fighter jets and involving Belgian specialists in training Ukrainian pilots and technical staff. It is very important that today we have Belgium’s decision to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighters. In 2025, the aircraft will be delivered from Belgium,” the President of Ukraine said during a joint meeting with Alexander De Croo and media representatives following the negotiations in Brussels. 

The Prime Minister confirmed that Belgium is ready to train Ukrainian pilots and technical staff and provide maintenance for the aircraft that Ukraine will receive in 2025.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that, together with the decision of Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway, this ensures the sustainability of aircraft supplies to Ukraine.

At the same time, as the President emphasised, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and the General Staff need to work to ensure that Ukraine can receive the first aircraft from other partners as early as next year, in 2024.

In addition, Zelenskyy informed that Belgium had joined the recently established IT coalition that allows Ukraine to more effectively counter Russian threats, especially in cyberspace, and enhance the interaction of Ukrainian units on the battlefield.

Belgium has also joined the joint efforts to implement the Peace Formula and is working on implementing several of its points, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

The President of Ukraine also emphasised that Belgium supports Ukraine’s EU and NATO integration.

“Today, judging from the content of our work here with all partners, from the mood of our partners, we can obviously say that everyone feels that Ukraine will one day be a full member of both the European Union and the NATO security alliance. We are working actively to bring this time closer,” Zelenskyy said.

Sanctions on the diamond trade

Since the start of Russia’s invasion in February 2022, the Ukrainian President has repeatedly called for a ban on Russian diamonds. To prevent Russia from skirting the sanctions, the Group of Seven advanced economies and the EU have been working for months on a way to trace and restrict the trade in Russian diamonds. According to various estimates, Russia exports roughly $4 billion of rough diamonds annually, accounting for nearly one-third of the world’s total.

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the world’s most crucial diamond trading hub, reports that 84% of all rough diamonds mined worldwide are traded in the Belgian city, making it the most critical gateway to the world for Russian diamonds.

According to the country’s prime minister, Belgium, which has the most extensive interest in the global diamond trade in the European Union, is supporting a ban on Russian diamonds as part of sanctions targeting President Vladimir Putin‘s government for its war against Ukraine. 

Prime Minister De Croo stated that the goal is for the ban to take effect on January 1, 2024.

“Today we talked about the introduction by Belgium of a certification procedure that would prevent diamonds coming from Russia from entering the world markets bypassing sanctions. Mr. Prime Minister, I am grateful to you for this decision and for all the support provided,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.


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