The Motor Yacht A belongs to Andrey Melnichenko, an oligarch worth some $23.5 billion, according to Forbes. He once ran the fertilizer producer Eurochem and SUEK, one the the world’s largest coal companies.
In the dusty, northern-most sheikhdom of the United Arab Emirates, where laborers cycle by rustic tea shops, one of the world’s largest yachts sits in a quiet port — so far avoiding the fate of other luxury vessels linked to sanctioned Russian oligarchs.
The display of lavish wealth is startling in one of the UAE’s poorest emirates, a 90-minute drive from the illuminated high-rises of Dubai. But the 118-meter (387-foot) Motor Yacht A’s presence in a Ras al-Khaimah creek also shows the UAE’s neutrality during Russia’s war on Ukraine as the Gulf country remains a magnet for Russian money and its oil-rich capital sees Moscow as a crucial OPEC partner.
Since Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, the seven sheikhdoms of the Emirates have offered a refuge for Russians, both those despairing of their country’s future as well as the mega-wealthy concerned about Western sanctions.
While much of the world has piled sanctions on Russian institutions and allies of President Vladimir Putin, the Emirates has not. It also avoids overt criticism of the war, which government readouts still refer to as the “Ukraine crisis.”
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