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Bright Ideas from Britain’s Geopolitical Henchmen

June 12, 2022 (EIRNS)—Two NATO apparatchiks, Chicago Council on Global Affairs head and Obama’s Ambassador to NATO (2009-2013) Ivo Daalder, and former NATO Secretary General and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, released a memo “To the Leaders of the Free World” on June 9, proposing the adoption of “an Economic Article 5 among democracies” modeled on NATO’s Article 5, so that “economic coercion” by “authoritarian countries” against one democracy would require counter-measures by all. The immediate prospects for the as-yet-to-be-formed “alliance of democracies” which would adopt such an “Economic Article 5” are not looking so good right now, but the desperate intent to force Western allies into a bloc decoupled from the rest of the world is clear.

The Queen’s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), for its part, issued a call for devious Western minds to come up with “creative and nuanced” proposals for how to best steal Russia’s frozen assets and hand them over to Ukraine, “without inviting comparison with the autocracies the West supposedly stands against,” or handing the Russians a “propaganda victory,” should a court rule such an action illegal. The June 7 call to action, “From Freeze to Seize: Creativity and Nuance Is Needed,” was co-authored by Tom Keatinge, the head of RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, and research fellow Maria Nizzero.

“Considerable creativity” will be needed to come up with a scheme “sufficiently robust to withstand scrutiny from a range of legal, moral and human rights perspectives,” the RUSI team acknowledges. The U.S., Canada and EU are working on bending the “rules” to allow it to occur, but so far efforts are focused on seizing assets of Russian oligarchs, and not yet on the Bank of Russia central bank assets, which offer a “more profitable return,” RUSI complains.

RUSI is, however, encouraged by policymakers paying more attention to “sanctions evasion” as a “legal” way to seize assets. Both the EU and U.S. are proposing legislative changes to make sanctions evasion a crime, and thereby a means to trigger seizure procedures. That was proposed in the EU’s late-May “Directive on Asset Recovery and Confiscation,” and should it be adopted, the authors enthuse that then evasion would be a crime in all EU member states, where currently that is only the case in 12 EU countries. Creatively nuancing the matter, the duo believe that turning the money garnered from penalties for sanctions evasion over to Ukraine would be “totally acceptable.”

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