- The Washington Times
Monday, June 6, 2022

Federal authorities announced Monday they have obtained a warrant to seize Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich‘s $350 million jet, as part of America’s attempt to deliver financial pain to Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s major backers.

The U.S. must still try to carry out the warrant on the Boeing 787, which is now in the United Arab Emirates.

The seizure warrant also covers a $60 million Gulfstream jet, which is still inside Russia.

“These wealthy Russian oligarchs have helped foster an environment that enabled Russia to pursue its deadly war in Ukraine,” said FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll. “The seizure of their valuable possessions, including these two aircraft, is just one way the U.S government holds accountable those who break U.S. laws and support Russia in its attempt to conquer a sovereign nation.  Our work has only just begun and we won’t back away.”

The two planes are to be seized under export sanctions. The U.S. says it has authority over them because they were both manufactured in the U.S.

When they made flights into Russia in March, they were considered to have been “reexported” in violation of U.S. sanctions on transfers of aircraft and parts. The sanctions were placed after Russia invaded Ukraine, according to an FBI affidavit accompanying the warrant.

The FBI traced ownership of the planes back to Mr. Abramovich through some of his subsidiary companies.

Mr. Abramovich, who made his fortune in the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, has been seen as a long-time backer of Mr. Putin, dating back to when he first claimed Russia‘s presidency in the late 1990s.

His wealth has been estimated at more than $12 billion, though his access to the money has become tougher in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

And his most famous holding, the Chelsea football club in England, has been forced into a sale because of his ties to Mr. Putin.

The Boeing 787 is impressive in its own right.

The jet, which has a tail number of P4-BDL, has been described as “decadent,” after undergoing an interior renovation rumored at more than $100 million.

The UAE is one of the relatively few nations that has declined to condemn Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, and abstained from a U.N. vote on the matter earlier this year.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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