Yachts, huge real estate, planes, works of art: Western sanctions imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine deprive them of deep-seated Russians their luxurious toys.
Efficiency, however, is difficult to assess.
The much-publicized asset freeze is hitting them hard Russian oligarchsmany of whom became rich in the ruins of the Soviet Union and were forced to discipline themselves during the two decades of Vladimir Putin’s rule.
In the United Kingdom, more than 100 businessmen and women and their families have been targeted for sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine. The United States imposed sanctions on 140 people, the European Union more than 30.
According to the British Minister of Transport, Grand Saps, the sanctions hit where it hurts, depriving them of their luxurious toys from the oligarchs, who have put their fortunes in the service of the Russian government in exchange for the enjoyment of the Western way of life.
In London, the so-called “Londongrad” for decades the hangout of many Russians, “the carpet of reception is being withdrawn,” writes the Economist.
The sanctions even hit him Roman Abramovichwhich led to the sale of the Chelsea football team he had bought in 2003.
But targeting such a large number of people in such a globalized economy remains “completely unexplored territory,” says researcher Alex Nice of the Institute for Government. “It will create a big gap between the West and Russia,” even after the end of the war.
The independent Russian political analyst Konstantin Kalatchev considers that Vladimir Putin’s “special operation” in Ukraine could last for years. If the decision to lift sanctions depends on the situation in Ukraine, Westerners “will never lift them,” he says.
Avalanche of sanctions
Forbes magazine last month removed 34 Russians from the list of billionaires, citing the consequences of sanctions.
“War is the ultimate disaster for them,” she said Elisabeth Schimpfoesslsociologist at Astom University in Birmingham and author of “Rich Russians”.
THE Petr Avenknown for his large collection of Russian works of art, told the Financial Times that he was not sure “he has the right to have a cleaning staff or driver” and feared he would be deported from the United Kingdom.
Many oligarchs have multiple nationalities and are not forced to return to Russia.
Western countries are a “base on which to turn if they fear persecution in Russia,” says Elisabeth Schimpfoessl.
The extent of the goods subject to sanctions is enormous. According to the British government, in the case of Roman Abramovich, their value is estimated at 9 billion pounds (10.5 billion euros).
European Union member states have announced that they have frozen Russian assets worth 30 billion euros. The $ 7 billion concerns yachts, helicopters, real estate and works of art.
“Russians like to see the rich cry too”
The United States has imposed sanctions, blocking $ 1 billion worth of Kremlin boats and planes.
Last week, at the request of Washington, Fiji police seized a 106-meter yacht worth more than $ 300 million linked to billionaire and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, against whom US and European sanctions have been imposed.
These measures do not only cause dissatisfaction. “Ordinary Russians like to see the rich cry too,” says Konstantin Kalatchev.
As for their goal, according to the analyst, “the use of financial sanctions to push for a change in foreign policy has not proved effective”, even if the sanctions will weaken Russia’s military capability.
While Abramovich was in talks to end the war, other oligarchs have openly criticized the war.
On Instagram, for example, Oleg Tinkov, a banker who was sanctioned from London, where he was being treated for leukemia, criticized “this paranoid war”.
But analysts agree that the oligarchs are unlikely to rally against Putin. “It’s not in their interest to speak out against Putin,” said Elisabeth Schimpfoessl.