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Greece and Malta are lagging behind their European Union partners in freezing Russian assets as part of sanctions against Moscow over the war in Ukraine, an EU official said.

The same finding is contained in an internal document of the bloc, Reuters reported.

The agency notes that this comes at a time when the EU is considering whether to confiscate these funds to help Kyiv.

So far, the 27 member states of the EU have announced the freezing of Russian assets worth about 20.3 billion euros in connection with the sanctions against Russia.

Eight countries - Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria - have reported that assets worth more than €1 billion have been frozen in each.

Almost every other EU country has frozen assets worth millions, according to the European Commission document provided to Reuters.

By comparison, Greece has notified the bloc to freeze assets worth only €212,000 and Malta €147,000.

Bulgaria is not mentioned in this list.

"It's a bit surprising," said the EU representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Either they don't have much, or they don't do their job. Or they did something without telling us, even though they had the opportunity," he added.

Greece and Malta did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

More than 10 months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the EU blacklist currently includes around 1,300 individuals and 120 legal entities, and economic sanctions in areas such as trade, transport, energy, banking, media and defence.

However, the bloc may already have exhausted its limit of heavy economic sanctions that the 27 member countries have agreed to impose, despite regular calls from hardliners such as Poland for more to be done.

The EU's attention is also turning this year to how and whether to seize frozen Russian assets and spend them on rebuilding Ukraine.

Thus, around 300 billion euros of the Russian central bank's assets in Europe may also be at risk.

Germany has frozen Russian assets in the amount of 5 billion euros

There is little legal precedent for this, and some member states have expressed serious concerns about lawsuits arising from this step, while others believe handing over the assets to Ukraine would be the right thing to do.

In connection with this, the EU is also working to criminalize the circumvention of sanctions in all member countries, which is currently not the case.

According to the bloc's official representative, the EU's top leadership should announce its progress on these issues when it visits Kyiv for the EU-Ukraine summit on February 3, Reuters notes.