The French government has seized a 280-foot yacht from the possession of Russian oligarch Igor Sechin after he was included in a list of individuals sanctioned by the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As summarized by CNBC, “French authorities seized the Amore Velo yacht on March 2, after a check that took several hours.” Apparently, the yacht arrived to the shipyards where it was seized in January of this year and had been slated to stay there until April — although the vessel was being prepared to sail away when authorities arrived for the “check.” The “departure attempt constituted an infraction of a customs code because it aimed to breach planned economic and financial restrictions,” as CNBC summarized remarks from France’s ministry of finance. “French authorities said the fact that the yacht was trying to leave French territorial waters prompted the seizure,” The Wall Street Journal added, connecting the dots.
Talked to @JustinTrudeau. Thanked him for the leadership in imposing anti-Russian sanctions. Stressed the need to expand restrictive measures. The bombing of civilians in Ukraine must be stopped immediately.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 2, 2022
Sechin is closely allied to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and serves as the CEO of the Russian government-owned oil company Rosneft. Before that role, Sechin was a Russian deputy prime minister. The European Union characterized Sechin as one of Putin’s “most trusted and closest advisors, as well as his personal friend.” A subsidiary of Sechin’s company supplies Simferopol Airport, which connects the Crimean peninsula with Russia — thus, Sechin “is supporting the consolidation of the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula into the Russian Federation, which in turn further undermines the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” as summarized by the European Union. Sechin’s yacht isn’t the first such vessel to be seized by governing authorities — German officials also reportedly took possession of a large yacht owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, although officials denied the claims. That particular vessel is expansive and has amenities such as the largest swimming pool to ever be built onboard a yacht.
Igor Sechin, known as "Darth Vader" in Russia, is one of the most powerful and terrifying men in the country. He is close to Putin and was a "translator" in Mozambique during the civil war there. He then gobbled up the majority of Khodorkovsky's oil company when he was arrested. https://t.co/AEEmHkwwW3
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) March 3, 2022
In the U.S., the Justice Department set up a task force for working on the enforcement of economic measures that have been imposed in response to the unfolding Russian violence in Ukraine, and it’s been made clear that asset seizures and even prosecutions are on the metaphorical table for those involved in the effort. Economic consequences that have been rolled out for Russia in response to the war have targeted financing for the military, Russia’s technological development, and more — leaving the Russian economy in tatters, with the value of Russian currency plummeting, and outside interests have also been providing Ukrainian defenders with weapons to use against the Russians. The U.S. is, for instance, providing Ukraine with items including Stinger missiles, which are used against aircraft. Ukrainians have claimed to have killed thousands of Russian soldiers so far — and downed over five dozen planes and helicopters overall. Western officials have provided tentative support for Ukraine’s claims regarding how many Russian soldiers have been killed, although numbers are difficult to pin down.
Two Western officials tell @NBCNews that ~5,800 Russians have been killed, but the numbers are very hard to pin down. One US official says estimates range from 500 to 5,000
W/ @ckubeNBC @lauraasaravia
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) March 2, 2022