A $300 million superyacht owned by Russia's wealthiest oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, has arrived in the safe haven of Dubai as the West tightens sanctions on Russia's economy.
Potanin, who is the CEO and majority shareholder of the world's largest producer of refined nickel, Nornickel, has taken the precaution by transferring his 88-meter-long (289-foot-long) superyacht, called "Nirvana" to Dubai," according to AP News.
The arrival of Nirvana in Dubai has become a symbol of the UAE's unwillingness to oppose Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and enforce Western sanctions.
"One of a shrinking number of countries where Russians can still fly directly, the financial center has become a thriving hub for Russia's rich, in part because of its reputation for welcoming money from anywhere — both legitimate and shady," AP noted.
Julia Friedlander, a former senior policy adviser for Europe in the U.S. Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said the UAE had open arms in accepting oligarchs and their yachts.
"When it comes to taking sides in the conflict, it's not in their political interest to do so. They want to keep their access to money from around the world," Friedlander said.
AP released the story on Potanin's yacht arriving in Dubai on Tuesday. At the time, the oligarch wasn't sanctioned, but one day later, Britain appears to have slapped him with sanctions.
"Today's sanctions show that nothing and no one is off the table, including Putin's inner circle," a British government spokesperson said Wednesday.
Other Western countries could follow suit and sanction the oligarch. The movement of Nirvana to Dubai was probably a defensive play by the billionaire to prevent the vessel's seizure from Western countries.
The UAE's neutral stance will likely make it a safe haven for Russians searching for ways to shield their yachts, planes, and valuables from crippling Western sanctions.