The struggle was unequal: on the one hand, the immense I already 140 meters long, a floating spa with a heliport, swimming pools, an interior port for boats and capacity for 36 guests. On the other, a small boat, barely a couple of meters long, with five people inside and two flags.
the flags were ukrainian and his crew, trying to block his huge rival, shouted in unison: “Get out of here, Russian ship!” The superyacht, ‘Solaris’was trying to make a port in the southern city of Turkey from Bodrum. Its owner: the Russian billionaire tycoon, sanctioned in Europe and former owner of the London football club ChelseaRoman Abramovich.
It is not his only ship that has reached Turkish shores fleeing European sanctions. She has also done the ‘Eclipse‘, even larger than his fleet mate and, moreover, has a anti-aircraft missile system on the cover.
They have also docked in the Anatolian country the yacht Dmitry Medvedevuntil recently number two of the Russian president, Vladimir Putinand the Russian construction tycoon’s ship Maksim Shubarev. There are more on the way.
Balances of Ankara
The reason is that Turkey, to date, has been reluctant to apply sanctions – as the countries of the European Union and United States– against Russia. Although it formally supports Ukraine, Ankara tries to strike a balance with Moscowwith whom he fears to antagonize.
“I think there are two main reasons why Turkey does not want to join the sanctions -explains the geopolitical analyst and connoisseur of everything that happens on the Turkish coast, Yoruk Isik-. The first is practical: Turkey is going through a serious economic crisis. The second is that Turkey, in the world, has a position of entrepreneurial and business-focused country. And for this he is against any type of sanction. We are talking about a country that continues to trade with countries with which it is directly involved in hostilities.”
“Besides, there is a overall irritation of the Turkish Government with the EU. In the Turkish mind, why should Turkey join sanctions where it has no power of influence or decision?” Isik continues.
And in fact, the EU shows itself relatively comfortable with the situation in Turkey: the last bridge – along with Israel– which lies between Moscow and Brussels. “We value the position of mediator between Europe and Russia that Turkey can exercise and we are also interested in keeping it that way”, explains a European diplomatic source, who confirms that Brussels has indeed asked Turkey to apply the sanctions, but that it has been done informally, in private conversations, and without insisting too much.
But, for the moment, the sanctions have not arrived and Russian money is beginning to arrive in the Anatolian country and its shores. There are even rumors that Abramovich would be interested in buying the club. Goztepe from Izmirone of the historical ones of the Turkish league but in very low hours.
Some, however, are cautious. “These superyachts will be a headache for our government. But according to press reports, the possibility of Russian oligarchs parking their money in Turkey makes our government’s mouth water. This route can be dangerous. Be careful,” he writes. Selim Kuneralpa former Turkish ambassador.
And the danger, says Kuneralp, is easy to see and has a clear example: the Turkish public bank halkbank is currently being tried in the US for allegedly setting up a scheme to help Iran to avoid sanctions.
“Turkish private banks, including the warranty, property of BBVA, they are not wanting to open accounts to the Russians who arrive, even to small and medium clients. But the Turkish public banks are doing it, to get the maximum economic return“explains Isik, who believes that in the future Turkey could impose sanctions if the conflict in Ukraine drags on, but that he will do everything possible not to do so.
“Many Russian billionaires, as much as they are not sanctioned, are afraid and escape from Europe equally. Some of them may stay in Turkey. But those who are sanctioned – including Abramóvich – will not take any risks. After your ships are serviced here, they will transit through the dardanelles and the bosphorus to him Black Seato sochi; or through Suez Canal until Vladivostok and the Pacific, in the direction of the safe ports of Russia and well away from the EU,” says Isik.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.