Ukrainian sailor tries to sink Russian arms tycoon’s yacht and would do it again
A Ukrainian sailor who attempted to sink a superyacht allegedly belonging to a Russian arms magnate was en route to his native Kiev on Monday, determined to join the fight against invading forces.
Taras Ostapchuk said he hoped to join Ukrainian soldiers or civilian militias trying to hold back Russian troops advancing towards the capital, Kiev, and other parts of his homeland.
“All Ukrainian citizens must be the defenders of our homeland because it is subject to Russian aggression,” he told The Associated Press from Barcelona hours after being released from detention in Mallorca where the yacht was moored and just before boarding a flight to the Polish capital. , Warsaw.
“We have to stop this war,” Ostapchuk said on the other side of the phone.
The 55-year-old engineer’s act of defiance took place at a luxury marina in Mallorca on Saturday. His target was the Lady Anastasia, a 48-meter-long (457-foot-long) superyacht whose owner, according to Ostapchuk, is Alexander Mikheev.
Mikheev, 61, is the CEO of Rosoboronexport, the arms export arm of Russian defense conglomerate Rostec. According to the brief biography on the company’s website, Mikheev was previously head of defense contractor JSC Russian Helicopters.
A local Civil Guard spokesman said the yacht’s other crew members alerted authorities to the attempted sinking. Officers who showed up at the marina on Saturday found two open hatches letting water in. The yacht was rescued and Ostapchuk was arrested, the officer said.
The sailor offered no contrition when questioned by a local judge on Sunday: “He considers the owner of the yacht a criminal because he makes money selling weapons which he says kill people. Ukrainians,” the judge wrote summarizing the questioning according to the copy seen by AP.
The sailor thought about what he would do for a few hours before deciding to take revenge. According to his court testimony, the sailor acted to avoid polluting or harming others by turning off the yacht’s fuel taps and alerting the other crew members, all of whom were Ukrainians.
A fight broke out between Ostapchuk and his colleagues, who ended up calling the marina management.
The Civil Guard said it was unable to confirm ownership of the yacht.
“These luxury boats are usually registered in tax havens under shell companies that are not necessarily the final owners,” said a Civil Guard spokesman who is not authorized to give his name.
Reports by AP