LONDON/VIENNA - The frozen assets of the Central Bank of Russia should be seized and given to Ukraine, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said in an interview to the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei.
"Russia is destroying Ukraine, so we need to take Russia's assets [for reconstruction]," Karins said.
The Latvian prime minister emphasized that discussions on asset seizures should be accelerated.
"We need to move forward and coordinate, all of Europe, America and Japan," he said. The issue is likely to be on the agenda of the June EU leaders' summit and the G-7 leaders' meeting.
As part of sanctions against Russia, Japan, the U.S., Europe and other countries have frozen the assets of Russia's central bank as well as those of oligarchs.
Because of the hurdles involved in seizing the private property of the oligarchs, Karins proposed to limit the legislation to seizures of the Russian central bank assets.
"This, I see as possible," he said. "Difficult, but possible."
Karins also said the EU should immediately halt imports of Russian gas. The EU agreed at an extraordinary summit on Monday and Tuesday to suspend imports of most Russian oil by the end of 2022.
"Gas will be the next one," Karins said. Regarding the timing, Karins said sanctions should take effect "tomorrow... I would even say yesterday."
"The Ukrainians are fighting the war, and they are sacrificing their lives, for the principles of democratic countries such as Japan," Karins said, referring to ideas like the rule of law and democracy. A gas embargo should ensure that Russia "cannot afford to keep up [its] military."
In the interview with the Japanese business paper Karins also underlined the importance of making Ukraine an EU candidate state, thus demonstrating moral support.