Sunday, May 26, 2024

Russia Threatens Retaliation if West Seizes Frozen Assets, Warns Europe Will Suffer

HomeWARRussia Threatens Retaliation if West Seizes Frozen Assets, Warns Europe Will Suffer

Amid heightened volatility in the Ukraine conflict, Russia has issued stern warnings over its frozen assets abroad, vowing retaliation if they are seized to aid Kyiv. A draft law detailing potential response measures is already in the works, according to Valentina Matviyenko, a top Putin ally and speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament.

“The Europeans know there will be a very tough response on our part, and an adequate response,” Matviyenko told Russian state media, her words carrying an unmistakable air of menace. She refrained from specifying the nature of the reprisals, but asserted with conviction that Europe “will lose more than we do.”

The rhetoric comes as Western officials remain undecided on the controversial proposal to seize nearly $300 billion in frozen Russian assets, with the bulk – around $224 billion – held by the European Union. Only $5-6 billion worth is in U.S. custody, a Russian lawmaker revealed.

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As the prospect of an imminent Russian offensive looms, Ukraine too is sounding the alarm. Oleksandr Pivnenko, commander of the National Guard, warned that Moscow will unleash “unpleasant surprises” in unexpected locations when it launches attacks likely in mid-May.

“The enemy will act in directions we do not expect. But he will not achieve his goal,” Pivnenko told Liga.net, his words carrying a steely resolve belying the difficult months ahead foreshadowed by military officials.

One potential objective signaled by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is the capture of Kharkiv, a strategic northeastern city. But Pivnenko dismissed such attempts as futile folly. “To capture Kharkiv, they will have to fight for years,” he said, adding it would be “easier for the Russians to change their leadership” than take the city at the cost of “thousands more soldiers.”

Meanwhile, a $61 billion U.S. military aid package inches toward approval, raising hopes in Kyiv even as concerns mount over potential delays in delivery. Analysts warn the first shipments could take weeks to reach depleted Ukrainian forces strung across over 1,000 km of frontlines after the bill is signed into law.

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“Russian forces will likely exploit this vulnerability…and intensify actions around Chasiv Yar west of Bakhmut,” said Andrius Tursa of Teneo consultancy. Chasiv Yar’s high ground could facilitate Russian advances into the Donetsk region, potentially handing Putin a symbolic victory timed with key May celebrations.

With 20,000-25,000 troops massed around Chasiv Yar, Russia has already claimed gains in Donetsk, though Kyiv disputes the purported seizure of Novomykhailivka village after six months of bloody urban combat.

Underscoring the urgency, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu bluntly vowed to “increase attacks on logistics hubs for Western weapons” funneled to Ukraine’s forces. It’s a threat compounded by Kyiv’s drastic move to suspend most consular services abroad for men of conscription age – except for those returning home.

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“Our country is at war,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, berating those who “showed their state they do not care about its survival” by fleeing the conflict. The move signals Ukraine’s desperation to boost ranks as it girds for Russia’s much-anticipated offensive.

On the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, Britain assessed Russian advances as “slow but incremental,” analyzing the 73-day slog to clear Novomykhailivka – a mere 5 km foothold – as emblematic of Moscow’s grinding operational tempo despite deploying “additional reserves.”

As the warring nations exchange escalating salvos of rhetoric and military posturing, the world holds its breath. With tensions at a fever pitch and offensives looming, an explosive escalation feels ever more inevitable in this protracted, bloody conflict with no resolution in sight.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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