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MOSCOW, March 19. /ITAR-TASS/. After losing Crimea the new Ukrainian government is trying to lodge a complaint in relation to the $80 billion debt of the former State Bank of the USSR, or Gosbank. The government in Kiev also intends to file a claim for part of Russia’s property abroad - diplomatic and trade representations and other facilities previously owned by the Soviet Union.
Kiev has never confirmed the “zero option” 1994 agreement concerning debts and assets of the former USSR. According to this zero option, like all other former republics, Ukraine dropped its share of the Soviet Union’s foreign property in favor of Russia in exchange for Moscow’s consent to repay the USSR’s external debt on its own account. The Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine has not yet ratified the agreement signed in 1994.
Acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk believes the division of the Soviet assets has not yet been completed, and Kiev has a priority right to property, which, he says, Russia has illegally retained. In response to these claims, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that if Kiev revisited the zero option issue, Moscow would retain its right to insist on the immediate compensation of $20 billion - Ukraine’s share in the Soviet external debt as of 1994 calculated on the basis of the current exchange rate.
“When the USSR broke up in August 1991, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was among the first former Soviet republics to adopt the Act of Declaration of Independence and celebrate its sovereignty in December 1991,” the president of the Russian Banks Association Garegin Tosunyan said in an interview to Itar-Tass. “Division of financial sphere among the former Soviet republics took place at the same time. Russia took on responsibility to the former republics and the whole world to redeem the Soviet Union’s debt on its own.”
“In those tough years Russia shouldered the entire burden of servicing the USSR’s external debt, Russia settled all debts of the Soviet Union. Nobody has had any questions for 20-odd years,” said the head of the Finance and Banking Law Centre of the RAS Institute of State and Law.
“The Kiev incumbents have no legal justification for claims against Russia in relation to the Soviet debts. Ukraine’s claims concerning deposits in the former Sberbank of the USSR are ridiculous for the reason alone that these were retail deposits, not deposits of the Ukrainian Republic. Even hypothetically, if the new government in Kiev found reasons for financial claims against Russia, to file them it would first have to prove its own legitimacy,” Tosunyan believes.
The director of Vnesheconombank’s Strategic Analysis and Developments Department Vladimir Andrianov described Ukraine’s financial claims as “bluffing by an unprofessional team”.
“In 1994 Ukraine did not ratify the agreement about liabilities and assets of the former USSR according to the so-called zero option. Nonetheless, Moscow gave Kiev part of the Soviet property, namely part of the Diamond Fund. If Kiev is intending to revise the agreement signed 20 years ago, it will have to give back the received property and valuables. This is a complicated, practically unrealizable scenario,” the expert told Itar-Tass.
Andrianov described Kiev’s financial claims as a “political insinuation, an attempt to retaliate the blow dealt on Kiev by the referendum about Crimea’s accession to Russia”.
“Ukraine’s true national interest is in building mutually beneficial relations with Russia to which it is linked by thousands of years of common history. Instead, the new government in Kiev is destroying the country with its own hands, it is trying to break win-win ties with Russia filing far-fetched financial claims,” believes Andrianov.
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