Seize the Oligarchs’ Wealth

Faith Hillis in The Atlantic:

After American misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, many are rightly hesitant to respond militarily to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They don’t want to get involved in another faraway “forever war.” Nor are broad-reaching sanctions, which typically affect the lower rungs of society most, the best solution. However, there is a viable nonmilitary option that has the potential to curb Russian aggression and simultaneously address several pressing challenges facing Western governments: targeting the Western assets and lifestyles of the Russian elite.

Vladimir Putin and his inner circle profess to hate the West, but they are in fact cosmopolitans who live and invest across borders. They shop in Monte Carlo and park ultra-luxury yachts in Barcelona’s harbors. Their children live in European villas and attend Ivy League universities. They hide their assets in offshore accounts and launder their money through blind trusts or real estate in London, New York, and Miami. A recent study by several economists estimated that more than half of Russian oligarchs’ wealth is held offshore. The Bank for International Settlements estimates that Russian individuals and companies store about $11 billion in Swiss banks, nearly one-third of Russian banking assets worldwide.

More here.