Why yachts and assets belonging to Russian billionaire oligarchs are targets of the United States

From chasing yachts down to seizing Italian villas, the global effort to punish Russian oligarchs for their economic ties to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has been unprecedented. The United States, for its part, has organized its own special task force – known as the Task Force “KleptoCapture” – within the Ministry of Justice to seize assets of the Russian elite seeking to evade sanctions.

“This time, the effort to track down their assets is much greater,” Timothy Frye, a professor of post-Soviet foreign policy at Columbia University, told CNBC. “It will take a long time to dig through a lot of the risky property purchases and the like, but there seems to be some obligation to make that happen.”

However, it is unclear whether the oligarchs have enough influence over Putin to put an end to Russia’s ongoing barrage against Ukraine, experts say. Imposing sanctions on the Russian oligarchs could also prove difficult given the United States’ strong protection of property rights, Douglas Rediker, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told CNBC.

“I am not familiar with non-public intelligence, but it is difficult to pinpoint the specific link between at least some of the financial oligarchs and what is going on in Ukraine right now at the instigation of President Putin,” Rediker explained. .

“It does not mean that their conduct has been squeaky clean or justifiable, or that they are not guilty of a number of alleged sins,” Rediker said.

Watch the video above to find out how Russia’s oligarchs came to power and whether global sanctions against the billionaires could help bring an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine.

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