The ‘craziest thing’ about seizing Russian superyachts is the US has to pay for them,

Biden’s national security advisor says on hot mic

  • Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the US has cracked down on Russian oligarchs and their assets.
  • That crackdown has led to numerous seizures of luxurious superyachts from ports around the world.
  • The US is on the hook for upkeep of those vessels, Biden’s national security adviser said Thursday.

The worldwide crackdown on Russian assets has deprived many of that country’s oligarchs of their superyachts, but those seizures also have a cost for the US, which has to pay for the upkeep of the vessels it seizes.

Speaking moments before the beginning of an event at the Center for a New American Security on Thursday, Jake Sullivan, who is national security adviser to President Joe Biden, mentioned the ongoing Operation KleptoCapture, a Justice Department-led effort targeting Russian “elites, proxies, and oligarchs” with sanctions and civil and criminal asset seizures.

Sullivan appeared to reference the recent seizure of the Amadea, a 348-foot yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. The US moved to seize the yacht in early May and it sailed for the US in early June, after Fiji’s supreme court authorized its seizure.

“I just wasn’t aware how many super yachts there were in the world,” Richard Fontaine, chief executive officer of the CNAS, tells Sullivan on the recording. “I mean the size of these things, the value of these things is unbelievable.”