By Catarina Demony, Francesco Guarascio and Ali Kucukgocmen
ISTANBUL/MADRID/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich flew to Moscow on Tuesday as the Spanish government seized more assets belonging to wealthy Russians and the EU banned exports of caviar and products luxury.
Abramovich landed in Moscow early Tuesday after taking off from Istanbul in his private jet, according to data from FLIGHTRADAR24. A source familiar with the matter said he was not in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin.
This is the second trip a jet plane linked to the oligarch has made between the Turkish city of Istanbul and the Russian capital in the past three days, according to data from FLIGHTRADAR24. On Monday, he was spotted in the VIP lounge at Tel Aviv airport before the plane took off for Istanbul.
Abramovich was among several Russian billionaires added on Tuesday to an EU blacklist that already includes dozens of wealthy Russians. The world’s governments are seeking to insulate Putin and his allies from the invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special operation.”
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The latest sanctions follow three rounds of punitive measures, including freezing the assets of Russia’s central bank, excluding certain Russian and Belarusian banks from the SWIFT banking system, and freezing the assets of oligarchs and top political figures. plan, including Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. .
EU companies will also no longer be allowed to export luxury goods worth more than 300 euros ($330) to Russia, including gems, crystal, caviar, wine, bags handbags, leather goods, shoes and coats. Exports of cars costing more than 50,000 euros will also be prohibited.
This aims to impact the way of life of Russia’s elites, an EU official said.
Britain also imposed new sanctions on hundreds of Russian individuals and entities on Tuesday, using a new law to catch up with the EU and the United States in targeting those accused of supporting Putin.
Britain said the latest round of sanctions included elites with a net worth of 100 billion pounds ($130 billion).
“We are going further and faster than ever to hit those closest to Putin – from top oligarchs to his prime minister, to propagandists who peddle his lies and misinformation. We hold them accountable for their complicity in Russia’s crimes in Ukraine,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss said.
Abramovich said last week he was selling Chelsea football club but after being targeted by UK sanctions that sale has now been put on hold. Chelsea operate under a special government license and the Premier League board have disqualified him as a club manager.
German newspaper Bild reported that Abramovich met former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Moscow on Thursday evening before Schroeder met Putin.
A source familiar with the matter confirmed the meeting with Schroeder to Reuters and said the oligarch wanted to find a way to stop the war.
A spokesperson for Abramovich declined to comment.
The Russian billionaire, who also holds Israeli and Portuguese citizenship, said he does not have close ties to Putin. Portugal has opened an investigation into how Abramovich obtained citizenship.
Ship tracking data from Refinitiv showed Abramovich’s $600 million Solaris yacht was cruising near the Albanian coast on Tuesday morning in “awaiting orders” status. His destination was previously listed as Turkey.
It was unclear how the new EU sanctions would impact the yacht’s progress in European waters.
European authorities have stepped up the seizure of yachts and luxury assets of billionaires from Putin’s circle who are on sanctions lists.
The 48-metre (157ft) yacht Lady Anastasia, owned by Russian oligarch Alexander Mikheyev, was detained by Spanish authorities at a marina in Mallorca on Tuesday, a police source said. Mikheyev, who heads Russian arms export group Rosoboronoexport, is on the EU sanctions list.
On Monday, Spanish authorities said they seized the 85-metre (279ft) superyacht Valerie, valued at $140million, in Barcelona. The yacht is owned by Sergei Chemezov, a former KGB officer who heads state conglomerate Rostec, two sources said.
Chemezov was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 and Britain in 2020 for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and was named to sanctions lists this month by the United States and Australia .
(Additional reporting by Liz Piper, Yesim Dikmen, Madeline Chambers; Editing by Leela de Kretser and Rosalba O’Brien)
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