US has power to seize Russian assets, help rebuild Ukraine, says Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Washington has the power to seize Russian assets in the US and will use them to help rebuild Ukraine.

Speaking in Kyiv, Blinken said Russian President Vladimir Putin must pay to rebuild what he has destroyed in Ukraine.

He also said that Ukraine is getting “closer to Nato”.

Earlier, the top US diplomat told Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that military aid is “now on its way”.

“What Putin destroyed, Russia should – must – pay to rebuild. It’s what international law demands. And it’s what the Ukrainian people deserve,” Blinken said during his speech at Kyiv Polytechnic University.

“Our Congress has given us the power to seize Russian assets in the US, and we intend to use it,” he said.

He added that the G7 group – the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and the US – can unlock billions of dollars, “and send a powerful message to Putin that time is not on his side”.

Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago, Russian state assets in the EU estimated to be worth almost €211billion (£181bn) have been frozen.

Blinken landed in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday after a nine-hour journey via sleeper train from the Polish border.

His visit comes as the country struggles to hold back a major Russian incursion near its second biggest city of Kharkiv.

Blinken’s arrival also marks three weeks since the US Congress finally agreed a new $61bn (£49bn) aid package for Ukraine.

“We are bringing Ukraine closer to and then into Nato,” Mr Blinken said in his speech.

“We will make sure Ukraine’s bridge to Nato is strong.”

Blinken sought to reassure Ukrainians with a direct-to-camera message: “You are not alone. We are with you today and we will stay by your side”.

He noted that his visit came at a “critical moment” – amid a fresh Russian offensive which he said had been aided by North Korea, Iran and China.

He also touched upon new legislation to help mobilise troops to fight invading Russian forces. The measure is aimed at boosting numbers in the military, which is under severe pressure as Russia continues its advances in the east.

Mr Blinken described Ukraine’s recent mobilisation reforms as “a difficult decision but a necessary one”, lauding all those who have stepped up to serve their country.

During Blinken’s meeting with President Zelensky, he paid tribute to Ukraine’s “extraordinary resilience” and to the Ukrainian president’s “strength and leadership”.

He acknowledged that it was a “challenging time” but that the US assistance was “on the way”, which he said would make a crucial difference on the battlefield.

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