The world for mega-yachts owned by Russian oligarchs is small – but they still exist, the safe havens. The United Arab Emirates in particular are open when it comes to accommodating ships and funds. Gradually this is becoming a problem for some states.

If you want to see the floating palaces of Russian billionaires in the wild, you don’t have to look far. Because waters in which the yachts are not threatened with confiscation are rare. This is why oligarchs like Andrei Melnichenko or Andrei Skotsch have identified the United Arab Emirates as a place of refuge, while others remain in Turkey.

Ships such as the “Motoryacht A” and the “Madame Gu” are currently moored in the Persian Gulf. The latter was spotted just a few days ago by journalists in the port of Dubai, right next to the ship “Dubai” (IMO 1006324, click for details on the yacht) of the ruler Muhammad bin Raschid Al Maktum.

The $150 million yacht belonging to the sanctioned oligarch Skotsch is seen by many as further proof that some countries are reluctant to join the Western world in sanctions against Russia’s elite. This welcoming culture, which is also reflected in unrestricted travel freedom for Russians to the Emirates, is now openly criticized by more and more countries.

US calls for more cooperation

The AP news agency quoted US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs Barbara Leaf: “I am not at all happy with the current record and intend to make this a priority to better align efforts.” What is meant is the adoption of the sanctions that are almost identical in the USA, the European Union, Great Britain and numerous other countries, but do not apply in the Middle East.

Also read: Mega yachts and swanky mansions are too expensive: oligarchs are a heavy burden on the state coffers

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, one of the key US coordinators for the Russia sanctions strategy, is also pursuing these efforts. He met with Emirati tax officials and promoted better cooperation. In his speech, Adeyemo said, “Financial institutions must be extremely careful when conducting Russia-related deals.”

So far, these appeals have not been successful. Oligarchs are still mooring their ships unmolested in Arabian waters, and there are no reports at all of sanctions-related controls. And Dubai is not alone: ​​Yachts can still move freely around the Maldives, and the coasts of Turkey are also considered a safe haven.

Turkey, Maldives and Dubai are popular

Because even though many ships have been hiding their position without permission since March, a look at the most recently reported locations or reports of sightings shows that the regions mentioned are gradually becoming more crowded. In the Maldives, for example, there are ships like Viktor Raschnikow’s “Ocean Victory” (IMO: 1011850), while in Turkey the coast resembles an exile meeting place for the elite.

The Aegean is currently home to ocean giants such as Roman Abramovich’s “Solaris” (IMO: 9819820) and “Eclipse” (IMO: 1009613), Leonid Michelson’s “Pacific” (IMO: 9569293), the “Titan” (IMO 1010478) by Alexander Abramov, the “Clio” (IMO 9312535) by Oleg Deripaska and the “Anna” (IMO: 1012983) by Dmitri Rybolowlev. Unlike the ships around Dubai and the waters of the Maldives, many of these yachts even broadcast where they are on a regular basis. The only anomaly: Leonid Michelson seems to have changed the name of the ship to “319011300” in the official databases – or there is an error.

Once the yachts are there, there is currently no way to secure, freeze or confiscate the assets. Only the way to these regions turns out to be a danger for the ships again and again. Dimitri Pumpianski’s “Axioma” (IMO 9571143) also tried to reach Turkey, as the insider “Esysman Superyachts” reveals on his YouTube channel. During a stopover in Gibraltar, however, the trap snapped shut, authorities confiscated the ship and even offered it for sale – as the first oligarch yacht since the beginning of the war.

Source: AP News, US Treasury Department, Esysman Superyachts