If you’ve worked your way into becoming one of the top arms dealers in Russia, it’s probably fair to say you’ve made your share of enemies over the years.
But it’s not always the ones you expect that you have to watch out for.
Two days after Russian forces launched an invasion of Ukraine, the Lady Anastasia, a 450-foot superyacht reportedly owned by Alexander Mikheev, was docked at a marina on the Spanish resort island of Mallorca.
Mikheev is the head of Rosoboronexport, the military export branch of Russia’s state-owned defense conglomerate, and it turns out that some of the workers on the vessel just happened to be Ukrainian.
When one of them, 55-year-old Taras Ostapchuk, saw footage of Russian forces bombing his native country, he realized that his boss could have supplied those weapons — and decided to take measures into his own hands.
According to media reports, the engineer closed a pair of fuel valves, directed others aboard the yacht to leave, and opened two hatches in an effort to sink the $7 million vessel. Other workers, however, alerted authorities to his act of sabotage in time to save the boat.
Other oligarchs haven’t been so lucky: instead of rogue mechanics, their yachts face potential seizure from authorities across Europe after Western nations levied sanctions on prominent Russians in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.
Ostapchuk, meanwhile, made a defiant appearance in a Barcelona courtroom, declaring that he’d do the same thing all over again. He spoke with one reporter while preparing to board a flight to Poland en route to Kyiv, intent on joining the fight. He told a Spanish publication that although he was older and had never held a gun, he had “a lot of experience with mechanics” and that, “if it’s necessary, I will.”
He declared, “I will not lose my country.”