Who will pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine?
Although there are no signs of an end to Russia's war against Ukraine for the time being, people are already talking about how to rebuild the country. In Britain, the US, and also the EU there are discussions about whether it would be possible to use Russian capital assets that have been frozen due to sanctions. Other ideas are circulating in Europe's media.
Russian private property also protected by law
The idea of using proceeds from the sale of Russian property outside the country to rebuild Ukraine contradicts legal principles, Lidové noviny warns:
“According to our laws, property frozen under sanctions against Russia can't be nationalised just like that. ... This is only possible in exceptional cases, and only when due compensation is given. The protection of private property is one of the foundations not only of the market economy but also of democracy. ... Only if persons or companies have committed crimes that are subject to fines levied on assets can compensation be paid from the proceeds of the frozen assets. However, this would have to be approved in each individual case by an independent court.”
Ignoring the rule of law would be costly
Radio Kommersant FM also takes a critical view of the idea:
“However bad Moscow may be, departing from the rule of law and order would not be desirable. It would set an unpleasant precedent and justify critics of the West who claim that there are no values; that no one is blameless here. It is notable that officials in positions of responsibility clearly seem to understand that legality takes priority and that there must be no ill-considered decisions - because that would end badly for everyone. Russian business, meanwhile, could certainly participate in reconstruction programmes for Ukraine - but voluntarily and in return for the lifting of sanctions.”
A new version of Monopoly
Zelensky has proposed an innovative model, says La Stampa:
“In the series 'Servant of the People', which brought Volodymyr Zelensky to power, there is a hilarious scene in which the oligarchs are playing Monopoly. The playing field is a board representing Ukraine, with ports, mines and factories. ... Yesterday in Davos, the Ukrainian leader proposed [via video link] a new version of this game to the international business world. Every country, every city and every foreign company can 'adopt' a region or an industry in Ukraine to participate in the immense reconstruction process that will be necessary after the war, the cost of which is currently estimated at 500 to 600 billion dollars. ... A disastrous bottomless pit, but one that could also become the bargain of the century.”
Polish firms should stand at the ready
Companies in Poland need not feel guilty about hoping to make moderate profits in the reconstruction efforts, writes Gazeta Wyborcza:
“Poland is helping Ukraine, taking in refugees and supplying weapons. ... It is our moral duty, but also our right, to participate in the reconstruction of the destroyed country. ... When the war is over the US, the EU and likely other countries too will release funds on a scale comparable to that of the Marshall Plan. ... It is in the Poles' interest that the destruction in Ukraine is repaired as swiftly as possible so that the country can develop and stabilise. There is nothing wrong with Polish entrepreneurs earning money in the process of reconstruction, but they shouldn't count on huge sums.”