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UKRAINE

Spain seizes Russian oligarch’s €128 million megayacht

An 85-metre yacht belonging to Russian oligarch Sergei Chemezov was impounded Monday in the Spanish port of Barcelona, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said.

Spain seizes Russian oligarch's €128 million megayacht
The Valerie superyacht is worth $140 million (€128 million) and is 85 metres long. Photo: JanManu /Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Spanish newspaper El País reported that the yacht seized is named Valerie, which it linked to Rostec defence firm chief Sergei Chemezov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We have immobilised temporarily a yacht in Barcelona belonging to one of the main Russian oligarchs,” Sánchez told la Sexta, adding “others were to come.”

The superyacht named Valerie is worth $140 million (€128 million) and is 85 metres long, the premier said without giving other details.

Yachts are among the assets of oligarchs targeted by sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chemezov features prominently on the sanctions lists. He has previously been sanctioned by the United States in 2014 and by the UK in 2020 over his involvement in Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Rostec Corporation CEO Sergei Chemezov during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on August 2, 2016. (Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / various sources / AFP)

My Solaris, the €500 million superyacht of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, left Barcelona on March 11th and its crew are now looking to dock at a port further East where the vessel will not be seized by authorities.

READ ALSO: How much influence does Russia have over Spain?

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UKRAINE

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

A Ukrainian grain shipment arrived in Spain on Monday after being shipped via the Baltic Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade, imposed following the outbreak of war, a Spanish association said.

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

The Finnish-flagged cargo ship, the Alppila, carrying 18,000 tonnes of grain for animal feed docked at A Coruña port in northwestern Spain early on Monday, the Agafac food manufacturers association said.

It said it was the first time such a route had been used for Ukrainian grain.

Agafac, which had placed the order, said the grain had been transported by lorry to the northwestern Polish port of Swinoujscie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

It then called in at Brunsbuettel in northern Germany before heading for Spain.

This is “the first shipment of grain to be transported via a new sea route through the Baltic Sea to circumvent the Russian naval blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea that has been in place since the war began,” Agafac said.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Ukraine’s agriculture ministry was unable to confirm whether or not it was the first such shipment of Ukrainian grain to travel via the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have information about transportation specifically to Spain. We deliver to Romania, Poland. This is probably the logistics outside Ukraine,” he said.

When Russia invaded on February 24th, it imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that has choked off its grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped due to the blockade.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is currently exporting more than two million tonnes of grain a month via rail but that figure is far below what it was exporting before the war via its ports, notably Odessa.

The United Nations and certain countries like France and Turkey have been pushing for the opening of a “security corridor” in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian exports to resume.

At the end of May, General Christopher Cavoli, the incoming head of the US European Command, said Germany’s railway company recently set up a “Berlin train lift” — a special train service to move Ukraine’s grain exports.

He said Poland was working on a simplified border crossing regime to ease the deliveries, and once out of Poland, the grain was taken to Germany’s northern ports to be shipped onwards.

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