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Robert Litan

Russia Can Be Made to Pay for Ukraine Damage Now

About $350 billion in foreign currency reserves is now in the hands of governments around the world, effectively pre-funding war reparations.

Russia’s mounting reparations debt.

Russia’s mounting reparations debt.

Photographer: Sergey Bobok/AFP

Billions of people around the world are watching helplessly as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine accelerates into its third week, continuing to kill more innocent people every day, while destroying infrastructure throughout the country and forcing millions of refugees into neighboring European countries.  

There is one positive step that the U.S. and like-minded countries should begin developing immediately to ensure that Russia at least is held responsible for the cost of humanitarian assistance, reparations and eventual reconstruction: Tap Russian foreign exchange reserves that are held in central banks outside the country and that have been frozen by their governments.