(RIA Novosti) - Russia will be entitled to retain Soviet property abroad after it has repaid all debts of the former U.S.S.R., the finance minister said Saturday.
Under a 1994 "zero option" agreement with ex-Soviet republics, Russia inherited all the assets and liabilities of the former Soviet Union. Russia is about to repay early the outstanding debt worth $22.3 billion that the Soviet Union had obtained in the 1980s to tackle social problems, to the Paris Club of creditor nations by August 21, reports Trend.
"Now Russia is going to re-register all the property of the former U.S.S.R. as its assets in countries where it has not done so yet," Alexei Kudrin told Russian television.
Ukraine signed the "zero option" agreement but has refused to endorse the document through parliament.
In early April, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesman Vasiliy Filipchuk said the division of assets and liabilities of the former Soviet Union, including the former superpower's considerable diamond stocks, remained undecided and required consultations.
Kudrin responded that Russia had every right to demand the former Soviet assets, including through court, because it had virtually honored all the liabilities of the former Soviet republics, including Ukraine's.
"We have an agreement with Ukraine, which remains the only country that has unfortunately refused to ratify it," Kudrin said.
The minister also said that Russia's repayment of the Soviet debt had helped reduce its dependence on the global market.
"We have reduced the risks that Russia could involve, which means that both the government and private business will now have fewer difficulties in securing loans and direct investment in the West," Kudrin said.
He said the debt repayment would also improve Russia's credit rating and provide cheaper loans for business.