Andrey Melnichenko, a Russian oligarch worth more than $20 billion, lost a yacht worth $600 million due to global sanctions, but not a more modest model, $300 million thanks to a haven set up by an ally of the United States.
Melnichenko once ran SUEK, one of the world’s largest energy companies. He met Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. Sanctions soon followed, and Melnichenko was on the list. Lemelchenko’s “sailing yacht A” was seized by Italian authorities in March.
Melnichenko’s smaller yacht, “Motor Yacht A,” is taller than a football field and has a 2,500-square-foot master suite—larger than most single-family homes in the United States—a helipad, three swimming pools, and four luxury rooms. It has docked safely for weeks in the port of Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.
The United Arab Emirates, a close US ally in the fight against terrorism, abstained from a vote at the United Nations Security Council in February condemning the Russian invasion — and refused to impose sanctions. Wealthy Russians have noticed.
The result is written financial times Dubai correspondent Simeon Kerr: “Thousands of wealthy Russians who were not subject to sanctions have moved to the UAE to escape economic uncertainty and political instability at home.”
The latest developments:
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there was “progress” in talks to allow the export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports and ensure unfettered access to Russian food and fertilizer to global markets. The war closed the Black Sea ports and cut off vital supplies to developing countries.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said his country will act as an “economic hub” for neighboring Ukraine, helping it export grain and other products while Russia blocks export routes to Ukraine.
Portugal sent 146 marines to join the NATO force stationed in Lithuania as part of efforts to strengthen the alliance’s eastern flank. The deployment includes a variety of specialists in neutralizing mines and other explosive devices.
► Polling stations are open in Denmark for voters to decide whether to abandon their 30-year-old country by withdrawing from the European Union’s Common Defense Policy. This month Sweden and Finland announced historic bids to join NATO.
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Germany said on Wednesday it will send anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems to Ukraine, and that the United States is preparing to reveal details of its security package as Ukraine struggles to fend off a fierce Russian attack.
Russian forces in recent days Captured most of the eastern city of Severodonetsk, one of the last major cities under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region. German Chancellor Olaf Schulz told lawmakers that the IRIS-T SLM missiles he will be sending are “the most modern air defense system that Germany has.” They will enable Ukraine to defend an entire city from Russian air attacks. Germany will also provide Ukraine with radar systems to help locate enemy artillery.
The United States will reveal details of a $700 million security package that includes High Mobility Missile Systems (HIMARS). US officials said Ukraine assured the United States that the missiles would only be used to repel Russian forces in Ukraine and not to attack Russian territory.
Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin does not believe Ukraine’s pledge. He accused the United States of deliberately “pouring oil on the fire” and said the missiles would not encourage Kyiv to resume peace talks.
The Swiss government has rejected Denmark’s request to send 20 Piranha III infantry vehicles to Ukraine – for now. Swiss radio SRF reports that Denmark needs Switzerland’s approval because tanks are built there, and Switzerland bans the export of Swiss-made weapons to conflict zones due to its neutral status.
Swiss officials previously rejected a German request to ship Swiss-made munitions to Ukraine, but they will review that decision as soon as Friday. Bermine Bisch, a member of the Swiss Council of State, said his country should take a more generous interpretation of the law and “correct this practice”.
The European Union says alternative means of exporting Ukraine’s grain will only carry a fifth of the usual total. EU leaders are trying to find a way around the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports that prevents the export of 22 million tons of grain, but they admit that alternatives to shipping will carry only a small part of the product. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the bloc is looking to get food by road and rail, which will transport only a fifth of Ukraine’s usual monthly exports.
“It is of course more laborious and expensive, but it is necessary to get this wheat out,” she said.
A regional governor in eastern Ukraine said that Russian forces control 70% of the Severodonetsk region, the focus of Moscow’s offensive. Luhansk region governor Serhiy Hayday said in a Telegram on Wednesday that some Ukrainian forces were fighting with the Russians, while others had withdrawn. Humanitarian shipments cannot be delivered, but at the moment the local hospital has a sufficient number of medicines and other medical supplies, and the humanitarian headquarters has food supplies.
“We are fighting for every settlement in the Luhansk region,” Heyday said. “We are waiting for Western weapons and are preparing to end the occupation,” he added.
Contributing: The Associated Press