Italy seizes yacht of Russian steel tycoon — Analysis

Rome claimed it had confiscated the multimillion-dollar vessel of a Russian businessman in order to comply with EU sanctions

Italian authorities have seized a massive yacht owned by Russian metals magnate Alexey Mordashov in a bid to enforce the European Union’s penalties on Moscow, the prime minister’s office said, amid additional reports that a second craft was captured by police under the same sanctions.

A spokesperson for Italian PM Mario Draghi announced the move on Friday night, disclosing the value of the yacht while stating it was taken near the coastal town of Imperia in the country’s northwestern extremity. 

“Italy’s police [have] just seized ‘Lady M Yacht,’ a 65 million euros ($70 million) vessel belonging to Alexey Alexandrovits Mordaschov located in Imperia (Liguria) – in compliance with the recent EU sanctions,”Ferdinando Giugliano wrote the following: tweet.

Footage purporting to show the police operation in action has been published by local media, showing an illuminated ‘Lady M’ surrounded by officers and law enforcement vessels.

Mordashov, the Severstal mining and steel giant, is the principal shareholder. The company has billions of assets and delivers approximately 2.5 million tonnes of steel each year to Europe, according to its website. He was placed on Brussels’ sanctions blacklist over alleged ties to the Kremlin, which last week launched an invasion into Ukraine on behalf of two break-away republics in the Donbass region.

In a statement, however, the steel magnate insisted that he was not involved in Ukraine’s attack and said that he still finds it difficult to understand the consequences.

“I have absolutely nothing to do with the current geopolitical tensions and I don’t understand why the EU has imposed sanctions on me,”He said that he added “I have never been close to politics.”

New European sanctions were imposed on Russian officials, which Western diplomats call “Russian” “elites”And “oligarchs,” in some cases the individuals’ links to the Russian government have not been made clear. According to AFP however, assets of around 500 Russian citizens or entities were frozen by the sanctions.

Local media reported that another yacht belonging to Gennady Timothyenko, a wealthy Russian commodities trader, was also taken near Sanremo. It is located just outside Imperia. Reuters confirmed the reports but only cited a handful of sources. “source with direct knowledge of the matter.”

While it’s unclear exactly what role the luxurious boats play in Moscow’s war effort, European officials have now gone after several, with the first grabbed in France at the port of La Ciotat on Thursday. It was said to belong to Igor Sechin, CEO of Russia’s state oil firm Rosneft.

It initially appeared a similar move was carried out in Germany soon after – where a 512-foot super-yacht belonging to Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov was allegedly seized by authorities – but local officials have since dispelled those claims. Although the Ministry for Economy and Innovation for Germany confirmed that the ship had not been taken, it noted that the vessel required permission to leave and that this was still the case. “no yacht leaves port that is not allowed to do so.”

The flurry of Western sanctions on Russian banks, businesses, media outlets, senior officialsAnd even lawmakers comes in retaliation to Moscow’s military action in Ukraine, which the Kremlin insists was launched with the purpose of “demilitarization” and “denazification”country.

UN calculates the number of casualties among civilians in Ukraine

Kiev claimed the attack was not provoked, insisting that it did not plan to take the Donetsk or Lugansk areas by force after years of brutal blockade in Eastern Ukraine. Thousands of troops and hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed in the fighting over the past week, and ceasefire talks have seen little progress, though the two parties were able to agree to a humanitarian corridor deal to allow civilians to flee active fire zones earlier this week.

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