MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia warned the West on Tuesday that Moscow would be very tough if the United States and the European Union seized Russian assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

After President Vladimir Putin After sending troops to Ukraine in 2022, the United States and its allies banned transactions with Russia’s central bank and Finance Ministry, blocking around $300 billion in Russian sovereign assets in the West.

The EU adopted a law on Monday to set aside windfall profits made on the Russian central bank’s frozen assets, it said on Monday, in a first concrete step towards the bloc’s goal of using the money to finance Ukraine’s reconstruction.

“This is theft: it is the appropriation of something that does not belong to you,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Sputnik radio, TASS reported.

Zakharova said Moscow’s response would be “extremely harsh” as Russia felt it was essentially dealing with thieves.

“Taking into account that our country has called this theft, the attitude will be towards the thieves,” Zakharova said. “Not as political manipulators, not as exaggerated technologists, but as thieves.”

Russia has said that if its properties are seized, it will seize American, European and other assets in response.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

By Sam