After about 23:15 in Scott Galloway's new Conversation with Fareed Zakaria — The Conflict in Israel and the State of Foreign Affairs addresses a possible western solution to "Western fatigue" from the war in Ukraine, including some recent changes in the political landscapes in Europe and Ukraine and the US presidential election in 2024:

From the YouTube transcript (lightly edited for clarity):

I think that's the critical thing to look at. The Ukrainians are not going to give up. This is their land, this is their - this is existential for them.The question is, will they run out of money and weapons, and that's all on the West.

I have begun to feel that one solution to this problem might be for us to seriously take and try to do what a number of very smart experts and senior policy officials have been saying which is, let's tap the Russian funds that are frozen from the Russian Central Bank. It's about $320 billion, and (if) we start getting that money flowing to Ukraine as reconstruction as reparations call it what you will, money is fungible, that both gives Ukraine a cushion it also sends a signal to the Russians that 'Look, you know you can't out-wait us."

The Russian strategy right now is pretty clear - they're waiting for the 2024 election. They think there's a 50% chance Donald Trump will win, Trump will sell the Ukrainians down the river may cut a deal with Putin.

Well what if you had this independent mechanism set up by an independent agency - maybe the European Union or something like that, that is just sending this money on the basis - and as Larry Summers the foreign treasury secretary has said, "this is unprecedented but so is the naked aggression that Russia to you know engage that and if the lesson if the if the president you're setting is your your your foreign exchange reserves and your Central Bank Reserves are sacrosanct 'unless you brutally invade your neighbor in which case all bets are off', that's not a bad precedent."

Question: In what context did Larry Summers (the Director of the US National Economic Council) say that sending Russian foreign exchange and/or central bank reserves to Ukraine would 'not be setting a bad precedent'?

Was this part of a prepared statement, an interview, a response to a reporter's question? Is there a transcript or recording available?

  • You placed quotation marks around some text, which incorrectly suggests Summers used those exact words.
    – user103496
    Oct 15, 2023 at 6:43
  • @user103496 Thanks, I understand. That's part of what I mean by "(lightly edited for clarity)" When one person is quoting another we usually add some kind of quotation-related punctuation. After Zakaria's "..as Larry Summers the foreign treasury secretary has said..." there are words ascribed to Summers. I'm no punctuation pro but I think some kind of punctuation is appropriate. We would not normally infe that Zakaria is exact-word-for-word quoting Summer in this case. He would say something like "..as Larry Summers the foreign treasury secretary has said and I quote..." in that case.
    – uhoh
    Oct 15, 2023 at 6:48

2 Answers 2


Q: In what context did Larry Summers (the Director of the US National Economic Council) say that sending Russian foreign exchange and/or central bank reserves to Ukraine would 'not be setting a bad precedent'?

In an interview on Fareed Zakaria GPS, Feb 26, 2023, Summers was asked about finding the money to rebuild Ukraine. In a video cued at the question (3:06), Zakaria asks and Summers responds.

There is a related article, Larry Summers: Why sanctions on Russia aren’t effective, referencing the program.

Russian assets should be the ultimate source to pay the bill to rebuild Ukraine, Summers said.

It could set a “healthy precedent” for countries engaged in cross-border aggression like Russia to lose state assets, Summers added.


See Lawrence Summers, Philip Zelikow and Robert Zoellick on why Russian reserves should be used to help Ukraine (The Economist, 2023-07-23):

Public international law has always combined “black letter” law with customs established as state practice adapts to new challenges. ...

The international law of state countermeasures differs from law or EU directives which govern “sanctions”. Countermeasures have long been recognised as extra-judicial state measures of self-help. As the UN’s International Law Commission explained back in 2001, “traditionally the term ‘reprisals’ was used to cover otherwise unlawful action, including forcible action, taken by way of self-help in response to a breach.” Now international lawyers use the term “countermeasures” for non-violent reprisals, with the law limiting collective countermeasures to the most serious cases.

We have proposed that, as one such countermeasure, relevant states should transfer frozen Russian assets into escrow to give Ukraine hope that it can rebuild, perhaps also help others injured by Russia’s aggression, and assist in a future settlement. The countermeasure would induce Russia to perform its legal duty to compensate, voluntarily or involuntarily, the victims of its aggression. ...

The Economist worried that state assets are ordinarily protected from transfer or seizure under a doctrine of sovereign immunity. But this doctrine applies to judgments by foreign courts. State assets, in contrast to private assets, are protected from other sovereigns only by customary obligations of reciprocal regard (or in bilateral investment treaties). Court action is unnecessary or quite limited in the case of an international act of state. State assets have been seized or transferred before. In 1992, in the lesser case of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, America and European countries placed Iraqi state assets into escrow to compensate Iraq’s victims (including mainly claims from Kuwait but also from 42 other states) without Iraq’s voluntary consent.

Ordinarily Russia could claim repayment for lost assets. In this case Russia’s own serious breach of the inviolable norms of international law permits a legal suspension of that obligation. ... a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), handed down in March 2022, has already demanded that Russia end its aggression, and Russia has ignored this obligation for 16 months. In November 2022 the UN General Assembly established Russia’s duty to provide reparations ... Russia has ignored that notice and duty for nine months.

You quote from a podcast where the speakers are simply speaking off-the-cuff, recalling off the top of their heads what they thought Summers may have said or wrote, rather than quoting Summers precisely word for word.


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