The idea is seductively simple: the West should turn over billions of dollars of frozen Russian assets to Ukraine to fund reconstruction. But it faces major legal problems which mean little progress has been made. After the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine last February, unprecedented economic sanctions against Moscow saw an estimated $350 billion in state assets, foreign reserves and oligarch property frozen by Western banks and officials. Nearly 12 months on, politicians and campaigners in the West are pushing for this idle wealth to be put to work rebuilding the shattered infrastructure, homes and businesses destroyed during Russia’s aggression. “So much damage has been done and the country that did the damage should pay,” Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told an audience at the World Economic Forum last month. In December, Canada began proceedings for the first time to turn over around $26 million belonging to a sanctioned company owned by oligarch Roman Abramovich — something Russia’s ambassador likened to “robbery in broad daylight”. Earlier this month, the European Commission pledged to “step up its work towards the use of Russia’s frozen assets to support Ukraine’s reconstruction”. Poland and three Baltic states pressed publicly for action “as soon as possible”. Estonia has announced plans to be a frontrunner in the EU, drawing up its own confiscation plans. “Putin broke it, he should fix it,” former US investor and activist Bill Browder, a dogged campaigner against the Kremlin, told AFP in a recent interview. The man behind the Magnitsky Act — pioneering legislation to sanction Russian government officials involved in human rights abuses — is now seeking to build pressure on lawmakers.