Turkey welcomes Russian oligarchs’ yachts

by Yoruk Isik (Reuters) A yacht linked to Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska arrived in a bay near the southwestern Turkish resort of Gocek on Saturday as more and more Russian billionaires are heading to Turkey to escape Western sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Deripaska, founder of Russian aluminum giant Rusal RUAL.MM, has been sanctioned by the United States, European Union and Britain. He has previously called for peace.

A Reuters witness saw the 73-metre (239.5ft) yacht Clio arrive off the coast of Gocek in the Aegean coastal province of Mugla on Saturday. The Cayman Islands-flagged ship remains in a bay off Gocek.

Clio’s arrival in Turkish waters comes after two superyachts linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, which made a surprise appearance at the Ukraine-Russia peace talks in Istanbul this month, docked in Turkish ports.

World governments are seeking to insulate President Vladimir Putin and his allies from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin calls a “special military operation.”

Turkey, a NATO member, shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, enjoys good relations with both and mediates in the conflict. He supported kyiv, but also opposed sanctions against Moscow, including measures against Russian billionaires.

Ankara is heavily dependent on Russian energy imports and tourists and has become a safe haven for Russians fleeing sanctions, and many have invested in Turkish property.

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On Friday, a Ukrainian diplomat said Ukraine was working with Turkey to gain more support and understood – although not satisfied – the reality of Ankara’s parallel ties with Moscow.

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(Reporting by Yoruk Isik; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Evans)

Sharon P. Juarez