Absolutely damn right

Ukrainian plans to seize as much as $500bn (£418bn) in frozen Russian assets to fund the country’s recovery have met firm resistance from Switzerland, the hosts of an international two-day Ukraine recovery conference.

The Swiss president, Ignazio Cassis, pushed back on the plan, saying protection of property rights was fundamental in a liberal democracy. He underlined at a closing press conference the serious qualms of some leaders that proposals to confiscate Russian assets will set a dangerous precedent and needed specific legal justification.

“The right of ownership, the right of property is a fundamental right, a human right,” he said in Lugano, adding that such rights could be violated, as they had during the pandemic, but only so long as there was a legal basis.

Having your house nicked just because you carry the wrong passport ain’t liberal democracy now, is it?

44 thoughts on “Absolutely damn right”

  1. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    It isn’t, but what proportion of Russians with villas and bank deposit boxes in Switzerland obtained that money legitimately? Granted, more of it was illegitimately obtained from Russians than Ukrainians.

    It’s more a question of how and why to do business with a country that itself does not respect liberal democratic property rights – the answer isn’t suspending due process 20 years after the fact.

    China next.

  2. such rights could be violated, as they had during the pandemic, but only so long as there was a legal basis.
    Bollocks. Shouldn’t have been during the coronapanic either.

  3. There was no legal basis for a restriction on human rights during the pandemic. There are vague words about the rights not being absolute, but most the restrictions were imposed without full democratic process as they were mainly Statuary Instruments which skips a lot of the debate and process and is just the opinions of the politician making them.

  4. Fourth Reich bloke, its collective punishment.
    We’re nicking stuff off people who have the wrong passport or are vaguely alleged to have gone to school in the same town as Poootin.
    Like everything woke, they’ll never stop, how long before owners of bank accounts in the west have to prove every penny was earned according to an ever moving target.
    How long before they are confiscating wealth earned by investment in tobacco, oil or even boo-hiss big pharma, once they get the principle established that the state can confiscate the property of those who are against the Latest Thing.

  5. Just a point. I gather a lot of these Russians hide or have hidden behind diplomatic passports. So might they be regarded as agents of the State?

  6. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    “Like everything woke, they’ll never stop, how long before owners of bank accounts in the west have to prove every penny was earned according to an ever moving target.”

    We are not far from that now. Cash or gold deposits over €10,000 in Germany now have to come with evidence. Slips more than 3 months old not accepted, at least for cash.

    We have a political class more than ever determined to abolish the foundations of our way of life, and a majority that will always go along. “Well, I’ve never had 10 grand, so it isn’t a problem for me. People who have 10 grand have questions to answer!”.

  7. So when my savings mature and it pays out and I use it to pay off my mortgage, I have to prove 25 years of clean income that went into it?????

  8. ‘ Having your house nicked just because you carry the wrong passport ain’t liberal democracy now, is it?’

    Actually it is.

    As we have come to discover, under liberal democracy the individual has no Rights whatsoever; all property belongs to the State including the body of the person.

    Perhaps we should give democracy a go sometime – that sovereignty of the individual thing, self-government according to common law and custom, with no government above.

  9. ‘Cash or gold deposits over €10,000 in Germany now have to come with evidence. Slips more than 3 months old not accepted, at least for cash.’

    That sounds so bad BnitFR, that I expect them to introduce it into Oz!!!

  10. BiFR – they’re not justifying it on the basis the money was obtained dodgily (Ukraine’s oligarchs wouldn’t be keen on that precedent).

    They’re justifying it on the same basis as their demands the West give them $5Bn a month, $1Tn for ‘reconstruction’, equip their army for free, fight their war for them, and a pony. Ukraine is on the front line of Freedom and Democracy, you see. We owe them, somehow.

    It’s true that our Western governments don’t seem that keen on Freedom and Democracy – or the even defence of borders against foreign invasion – at home, but it’s vitally important we defend it in Ukraine by any means necessary, including by abolishing the freedom to own property in the West.

    Switzerland is one of many countries with tight banking secrecy laws that is not enthusiastic about seizing private property for political purposes.

    The bastards.

    The idea has won the endorsement, in principle, of the UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss

    Lol, of course it did.

  11. This conference is rather getting ahead of itself. If Russia can sustain this offensive then Ukraine recovery becomes Russia’s problem, not ours.

    For now, I would leave private assets frozen and just confiscate the Russian government assets to pay for us to restock our weapons supplies (any remainder can pay the Ukrainians to fight and bleed the Russians more).

    Leaving the oligarchs with the potential of getting their goodies back will have a far more negative effect on Putin than driving them into his camp with nothing left to lose. He’ll have to keep worrying and watching them.

  12. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Steve, I am sure that Ukraine has many deep and self-inflicted problems.

    Being invaded by a bigger and better equipped neighbour should not be one of them. For us, we learned, or should have learned, the lesson about what happens when you let grandiose dictators get away with bullying smaller countries between 1939 and 1945.

  13. PJF – Russia is going to have its hands full with Donbass. If they’re dumb enough to try to conquer the rest of the country they’ll be inheriting a Slavic Afghanistan at best, WW3 at worst.

    But idk how we get from here to some kind of sustainable peace. Nobody who matters is terribly interested in peace. Feels like we’re on autopilot towards something extremely bad… a Syrian style forever war, or a Korea style frozen conflict, or a gritty and stunningly diverse reboot of Threads maybe.

    Russia announced yesterday it was closing down Nord Stream 1 “temporarily” for “maintenance”. The Germans are worried the “maintenance” will be permanent, and they’re right to worry. Russia has decreasing incentives to keep selling energy to customers who are arming their enemies and sanctioning their economy. Preventing the EU from stocking up before winter means rationing, mass unemployment and social unrest in the near future, barring some minor miracle. Russia may calculate that governments who can’t keep the lights on won’t remain enthusiastic about the Ukrainian project.

    The oligarchs – theirs and ours – will be fine, it’s people who can’t afford £200 to fill up their cars and £5000 leccy bills who will suffer. This winter could kill more pensioners than Covid.

  14. The Other Bloke in Italy

    Steve, a few days ago, I was talking to an intelligent Brit visitor who had accepted entirely the Daily Mail narrative on Ukraine.

    I had a go at him, and we will see how he feels next winter. The current heatwave here distorts a sense of the future.

  15. BiFR – Being invaded by a bigger and better equipped neighbour should not be one of them.

    I agree, wars are bad.

    we learned, or should have learned, the lesson about what happens when you let grandiose dictators get away with bullying smaller countries between 1939 and 1945.

    Is it still ok when democratically elected leaders do it?

    My hot take on WW2 is that the 20th century world wars were absolute disasters for Britain, and we have never recovered from them.

  16. Russia is going to have its hands full with Donbass. If they’re dumb enough to try to conquer the rest of the country they’ll be inheriting a Slavic Afghanistan at best, WW3 at worst.

    Their original effort looked very much like an attempt at the whole country (I suspect they want everything east of the Dnipre to become part of Russia and the rump to become Belarus II).

    A close Putin ally just restated Putin’s original goals for the war (back up from merely capturing the Donbas). Whether they genuinely believe they’re on a roll now, or if this is just psychological pressure isn’t clear. Probably the latter since they’ve very likely exhausted themselves just focussing on small parts of a small front.

  17. My hot take on WW2 is that the 20th century world wars were absolute disasters for Britain, and we have never recovered from them

    You are probably not wrong, Steve, but what was the alternative in both cases? And we are where we are. It seems Vlad the Bad wants to reconstitute the Soviet Union, but he appears now to have limited time to do it personally. That would lead to Cold War II when we ought to be looking further East.

    There was a Cold War joke going round when I was a teenager: “If you are an optimist, learn Russian. If you are a pessimist, learn Chinese”. These days I think even optimists might want to learn Mandarin.

  18. Having your house nicked just because you…whatever

    Doctrine of Eminent Domain – has always been so

  19. TOBII – I think the Ukropropaganda campaign has already dropped off a lot, Washington DC is starting to slyly float excuses (spoiler: it’s all Zelensky’s fault!). The media will memory hole the war like they did the 20-year, multi-trillion dollar Afghanistan disaster everyone’s already forgotten about, or the 2 years of economically ruinous health fascism they’ve already swept under an alarmingly bulging carpet, or the ongoing calamities in Syria and Yemen.

    In the West, we have full accountability for people who made edgy jokes on Twitter 10 years ago, and zero accountability for absolute institutional failure, even when it leads to piles of corpses or tens of thousands of teenage rape victims.

    PJF – I think they might have another tilt at Keev, and probably go after Odessa. Apart from that, the Dnieper looks like a plausible new border.

    They would need to significantly increase their troop commitments to capture and then occupy the western oblasts, if it comes to that I don’t see how we can avoid WW3. But it’s possible we’re already irresistibly on that road anyway.

    TG – what was the alternative in both cases?

    We should have just sat out WW1, our involvement was completely avoidable. WW2 was trickier due to German autism. We can’t change the past, but we can try to learn from history. The WW2 generation that used to run things during the Cold War mostly had a healthy aversion to foreign adventures, but since they retired or died their replacements have been increasingly careless.

    Mrs Thatcher agonised over the decision to confront Argentina, I doubt Cameron lost a wink’s over reintroducing slavery to Libya.

    It seems Vlad the Bad wants to reconstitute the Soviet Union, but he appears now to have limited time to do it personally. That would lead to Cold War II when we ought to be looking further East.

    I don’t think he does (I find John Mearsheimer’s argument convincing), but we might get that outcome anyway. Except this time, we may find ourselves on the poorer, shittier side of the Economic Curtain, shivering in our LGBTQIA+ rainbow coloured eco-yurts while Chinamen and Hindoos get fabulously rich.

  20. Bloke in North Dorset

    “ This conference is rather getting ahead of itself. If Russia can sustain this offensive then Ukraine recovery becomes Russia’s problem, not ours.”

    It’s taken then over 70 days and a shit load of ammunition to capture an area roughly the size of London inside the M25. They’re emptying garrisons near they finish border and training sailors to be soldiers, which is never a bright idea.

    At the rate he hasn’t got the resources, or time, to sustain the attack

  21. BiND – Pendant Time:

    Area of M25 – ~2,500 square miles

    Russian occupied Ukraine – ~50,000 square miles (to date)

    They’ve been fighting a medium sized high intensity ground war across hundreds of miles of front for 4 months and aren’t showing signs of running out of anything yet, though it’s been predicted every week since late February. Sooner or later Western predictions are bound to come true, but even the MoD’s daily briefings have stopped pretending Ukraine is winning.

    But as St. Milton asked: “compared to what?”

    The British Army hasn’t fired a shot in anger and is already running low due to the amount of munitions we’ve sent to Keev from our miniscule stockpile. Nor do we have the manpower, or the armour, to challenge even the fraction of the Russian army currently touring Ukraine. Last year, our army managed to (virtually) exhaust its munitions in only 8 days of wargaming. Our navy has no capacity to take losses, even another Falklands experience would sink most of their current tonnage (and we’d find that saving a few quid on the Queen Elizabeth class’ air defences was a silly decision). We barely had enough inventory to attack Libya, and they were polite enough not to fight back.

    We are not a serious military power, we’re the cocky, mouthy guy in the pub who’s going to meet the floor as soon as he takes a single hard punch. The meme armies of Western Europe are in a similar shitty state, it’s unlikely any combination of them could defeat Russia. Slavs may be drunk, stupid, incompetent and have eyebrows on their cheeks, but – by God – they can and will fight.

    Predictions: the situation on the ground is evolving towards a collapse of the Ukrainian armed forces’ ability to continue fighting. They’ve fought hard and often courageously, but no army can resist a 10:1 disadvantage in artillery and unfavorable casualty rates indefinitely. The “Russian shortages” narrative gets put to bed soon and replaced with a new narrative about how, ackshually, the Russians have lost because they didn’t march on Paris. Keev finds out, as the Afghan government did last year, how much Western promises to be BFF’s 4 lyfe are worth.

  22. “Russian occupied Ukraine – ~50,000 square miles (to date)”

    Ah, so an area roughly the size of England….

  23. @Nessimmersion – “how long before owners of bank accounts in the west have to prove every penny was earned according to an ever moving target”

    Have you heard of Unexplained Wealth Orders? Note that you are guilty until proven innocent.

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    As at 3 July:

    It has now been 76 days since the Russians launched the Battle of the Dohnbas. This would make it one of the longest major battles in the 20th and 21st centuries. Many times longer than Kursk,e Bagration Normandy, Bulge, etc. Its much closer to WWI (Somme, Passchendale, Verdun)

    And what has happened in the 2.5 months so far. Best to start with this map. Basically the Russians have dialled back enormously on their expectations (and frankly the expectations of others) that they would take a big chunk of Ukrainian territory.

    Instead after 11 weeks of combat, major losses and command changes, desperate attempts to raise forces and concentrating their firepower in a very small area, the Russians have compelled to Ukrainians to withdraw from Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

    Even that phrase needs to be emphasized–the Ukrainians have withdrawn in good order, as the Russians have never cut their communications. The map above (and indeed modern combined arms and Russian doctrine) would have had as a basic task an encirclement of Ukrainian forces

    However the Russian Army is incapable of fulfilling the basic tasks of modern war. Instead its does incremental, slow advances, a kilometer at a time. It cant brekthrough, it cant exploit, it cant encircle. This is not a sign of an advanced military.

    What has it taken. Well in the scheme of things, it might eventually take an amount of territory equivalent to greater London (think within the M25). Here are some maps that make it clear–imposed London on the region.

    Had it been said on April 18, that the Russians would have taken such a small amount of territory, at cost, in 77 days, Been unable to encircle Ukrainian forces, etc, it would be have construed as a great Russian failure.

    Now going forward, where are we? There seems to be a split between two groups. The Russians will take and hold group and the relative balance will shift group.

    The Russians will take and hold group, mostly made up by those who were talking about how easily Russia would conquer Ukraine before Feb 24 and by Russianists who seem desperate to show Russia is a great power to make themselves seem relevant…

    are saying that basically Russia can hold what it takes and that Ukraine has to take a peace deal that accepts that. This recent story in
    @washingtonpost
    has some of that

    https://twitter.com/PhillipsPOBrien/status/1543491060684492800?s=20&t=gD0FNyED-tJUng3TKtxA0g

    And since that battle started Ukr has started receiving long range artillery, so instead of Russia’s artillery being bey Ukr range they are now within range of counter battery fire, so their WWW1 tactics are going to be even harder to execute.

    Furthermore, Russia’s arms dumps are now within Ukr artillery range so their notoriously crap logistics and C2 are going to get even harder.

    https://twitter.com/JimmySecUK/status/1544268340071469062?s=20&t=gD0FNyED-tJUng3TKtxA0g

    So tell me, how is Russia’s army going to suddenly become competent and well resourced enough to take the whole country and have the problem of rebuilding. Not that Russia would be interested in rebuilding, their only interest is killing the men, raping the women and kidnapping children.

  25. It seems Vlad the Bad wants to reconstitute the Soviet Union, but he appears now to have limited time to do it personally.
    I don’t think he does – Says the knowledgeable Steve.

    He’s actually written book advocating the recreation of historic Russia. (that’d include the Balts & Finland) And is on record as stating the dismantling of the USSR was a tragic mistake.
    So you actually know Putin’s mind better than Putin does.
    Some achievement!

  26. BiND – Pendant Time:
    Area of M25 – ~2,500 square miles
    Russian occupied Ukraine – ~50,000 square miles (to date)

    Steve, I suspect BiND was referring to Russian actions in the Donbas (70 days does not cover the entire invasion). Most of the larger territory you mention was captured early on (maybe some of it in 2014?).

  27. ‘WW2 was trickier’

    Entertaining Steve. If I’d been running British policy before WW2, I’d have ignored the rest of the world, and Europe especially. I’d have been confident that the lessons of 1914-1918 showed that the Maginot Line could hold off the horrid Huns, so nothing needed to be done.

    Of course, Awful Adolf might then have attacked Russia, with the gleeful help of the Japs, and conquered the place. One then imagines the Tiger tanks roaring through Belgium and France about 1945. And the UK joining Adolf’s version of the EU, with no Brexit allowed.

    Though being a paranoid sci-fi fan, I might well have made use of all those Jewish physicists Adolf loathed, and blasted them with atomic bombs.

    Still I gather that Himmler’s Greenism was at least as idiotic as ours. So perhaps the 3rd Reich might have decayed, just like us.

  28. Ah, yes indeed, BiND posted while I was looking at maps.

    The Russians have spent enormous resources to capture very little on a small front – a political objective of fully acquiring an Oblast they mostly already occupied. The Ukrainians made them pay dearly for that.

  29. And in passing, I think the confiscation of Russian oligarchs’ assets is a shrewd move.
    For a start I believe “rights” are complete & utter bollocks. There are only obligations & I don’t see what obligations we have to Russian oligarchs. Which neatly gets rid of all this classical liberalism shit’s been poisoning thinking for a couple of centuries. You owe obligations to those owe you obligations. For mutual benefit. No one else. This is not a game being played
    But it’s not the confiscation but the threat of confiscation. It’s something that’ll make the oligarchs sit up & take notice. That they can’t expect to shelter behind western liberal legal limp wristedness. If anyone’s going to unseat Putin, they will.

  30. Bloke in North Dorset

    Chernyy Drakon

    Apart from ZH becoming increasingly harder to read with all the links, it’s the wrong question.

    Ukr is gradually replacing its Soviet era equipment with NATO compatible equipment. It had zero chance of resupply of munitions for its Soviet era equipment but now has access to NATO supply chains. Apart from Art 5 it is coming close to being a de facto NATO member

    Another success for the 4D chess playing Putin.

  31. PF – more like a Scotland, or a couple of Waleseses.

    BiND – Not that Russia would be interested in rebuilding, their only interest is killing the men, raping the women and kidnapping children.

    Touch some grass, fella.

    BiS – I think Mearsheimer’s main point is that, while Pooty Poot (like most Russian Boomers and Gen Xers) may be nostalgic for Soviet times, he’s been in power for 20 years and done precisely nothing to recreate the Soviet Union, a system which Putin also described as stupid.

    If he’s suddenly gorn mad and decided he’s Stalin, belatedly invading the Ukraine with only 200,000 troops is a weird way to do it. But who can say with these beastly Rus? We – civilised Englishmen, by Harry – are completely immune to Cold War retronostalgia, natch.

    Boganboy – No telling. But the Krauts were never going to beat the Soviets, they lost the war on June 22nd, 1941.

    Suvorov’s book is about right, I reckon. He might be overegging at times, but it’s true the disparity between the size and strength of the Red Army and the Wehrmacht shocked the Germans. Not in a good way – after they invaded the USSR, various Colonel Klinks were astonished to find their enemy was about 10 times more numerous than predicted by the Abwehr. And their equipment wasn’t crap either, they had better tanks than the Germans, and plenty of them.

    So Barbarossa only looked successful seen in the short term, but that “success” was bought at the price of unsustainable losses, which led to inevitable defeat, counter invasion, occupation, partition, etc. It was a mouse fighting a tomcat.

    A bit like the Ukrainian/NATO defence efforts in the current war, tho this one has mercifully yet to descend to 1940’s levels of Bing Crosby-maddened cannibalistic insanity. Maybe kids these days really are pussies.

  32. BiND

    I don’t think Ukraine is going to be getting a lot of help for much longer. People are far more worried about it suddenly costing silly money to fill their car up and price inflation in general.
    We’ve given them most of our old arms already.
    I just can’t see people being happy about an increase in their tax bill to fund a war against Russia in a far away land when they’re already struggling with living costs.
    And NATO supply chains have practically fallen over. The lead times I’m getting quoted for components at work range from depressing to outright laughable.

    Maybe that will be our salvation.
    The politicians will lead us into a potential catastrophic war, which will blow itself out in a week when the west runs out of bullets and we have to go home embarrassed. Hopefully that happens before the nukes get launched. More likely the nukes will get launched because that happens…

  33. the Soviet Union, a system which Putin also described as stupid.
    Steve. He is on record as saying the dismantling of the Soviet Union was a tragic error.
    It’s been widely quoted.
    You’re living in a world of your own.

  34. Touch some grass, fella.

    And yet “Ukronazis shelling civilians for eight years” is the height of intellectual insight.

    So Barbarossa only looked successful seen in the short term, but that “success” was bought at the price of unsustainable losses . . .

    Even Stalin thought he was going to lose. The Luftwaffe looked like they were going win the battle of Britain until suddenly they didn’t. Unlike you I will refrain from predictions, but that short term success seems just as plausible an outcome for the Russians as for the “Ukrainian/NATO defence efforts”.

  35. You’re living in a world of your own.

    Oh, you’d be surprised at how many people are in there and revelling in it.

  36. @Nessimmersion, @Steve x4, @Silke

    Well said

    This is best impartial analysis I’ve read so far

    Ukraine War: 120 Days
    .
    Updated analysis of the conflict.
    …Sixth, and contrary to claims by Western media, the Russian military is still trying to minimize civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure…
    .
    Note:
    …The international “marketing” of the Bucha massacre as a supposed Russian war crime appears to have been coordinated by British intelligence, similar to numerous chemical false-flag attacks in Syria…
    .
    …Reduction in gas flow through the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany was (and is) due to a broken turbine sent by Germany to Canada for repair, but then retained by Canada due to sanctions against Russia…

    Note to trolls: if you don’t like it complain to SWPRS

  37. ‘But the Krauts were never going to beat the Soviets, they lost the war on June 22nd, 1941.’

    Interesting Steve. In these circumstances my policy would have succeeded. No doubt I’d have been celebrated as Boris——oops Boggo the Brilliant, who produced peace in our time. I can imagine the colossal booze ups I’d be throwing in No 10.

    But of course I’d still be channelling my inner—-or is that outer— paranoid, and churning the nukes out like mad. I can imagine the poor physicists trying to tell me that, ‘No, PM. Atomic bombs really don’t work the way that H G Wells said.’

    Still knowing me, even though the British physicists recommended centrifuges rather than thermal diffusion to produce the U235, I’d have probably built a cyclotron anyway. And adapted it to produce all the plutonium even I could possibly want, as Rubbia has suggested.

    So we’d have ended up with a stalemate between Adolf and Uncle Joe. Or with the Russkies rampaging on the Rhine, and in that case with my ‘I want 9 million not 9000 nukes’, the bloody things would have been falling like rain.

    Perhaps the real outcome was a better alternative!!!!!!

  38. BiS… It is entirely possible to consider the old-style communism an exercise in stupidity, and the disbanding of the soviet union ( or allowing it to…) a stupid mistake.

    The chinese have also picked up on it, and have done things….differently… With enough success to have the US do its saber-rattling…

  39. Well yes Grikath. Good old Deng toned the communism down to simple fascism, and it seems to be working quite well.

  40. Update

    For those who dismissed this as a lie

    …Reduction in gas flow through the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany was (and is) due to a broken turbine sent by Germany to Canada for repair, but then retained by Canada due to sanctions against Russia…
    https://www.timworstall.com/2022/07/absolutely-damn-right-2/#comment-1228064

    Read

    Nord Stream 1: Canada to return repaired Russian pipeline part to Germany
    .
    Canada will return to Germany the repaired turbine of the Russian Nord Stream 1 pipeline, vital for sustaining German gas supply. Ukraine has condemned the move, saying it undermines the sanctions against Russia
    .
    Siemens had proposed the shipping of the turbine back to Germany first, rather than to Russia, as a solution to Canada’s legal dilemma. Berlin will then deliver it to Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom – but EU must approve sanction exemption first
    https://www.dw.com/en/nord-stream-1-canada-to-return-repaired-russian-pipeline-part-to-germany/a-62421206

    Canada waives Russia sanctions to ease Germany’s gas shortage
    .
    Ottawa allows export of vital turbine to help repair Nordstream 1 pipeline
    https://www.ft.com/content/9b5079e9-7a84-4386-995a-99b79703e909

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