Is Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East decisive for supporting anti-Russian sanctions there?
From July 13 to 16, US President Joe Biden will visit the Middle East. In addition to discussing the topic of security in the region, the main issues of the talks will be the Arab world’s support for Western economic sanctions against Russia.
The UAE did not stop cooperation with Russian investors, even turning a blind eye to the dubious origin of their assets. However, the Emirates may change its attitude if they win from the US in the regional political game.
This visit to the Middle East will be the first visit by Joe Biden as President of the United States. In May, CIA Director William Burns, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited the UAE, where Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan became the new president. After the eventual death of his older brother, Mohammed was given full power. How will these circumstances affect relations between the Emirates and the United States?
On the one hand, it will be easier for Washington to conduct a dialogue with Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan than with his predecessors. He is known as a philanthropist and supporter of many Western ideals. Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan promotes the fight against extremism and negotiates partnerships with world leaders to address this issue. He is also known for his extremely liberal views for his region.
On the other hand, from the very beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, the UAE refused to support US sanctions against Russia. It is known that Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan refused to answer phone calls from US President Joe Biden. Although the UAE is critical of the Kremlin’s actions, it remains loyal to the influx of Russian money.
According to Knight Frank, in the first half of 2022, many Russians purchased property in Turkey (20% of total sales) and the UAE (18%). Wealthy Russians are moving to the upscale districts of Dubai from London, where they have become pariahs because of their ties to the Kremlin. One of such houses was bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. It is in the UAE that Russian oligarchs hide their yachts from Western sanctions, like another Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko.
His $300 million motor yacht is in the port of Ras Al Khaimah. Financiers close to the Kremlin find salvation in the UAE. For example, Tim Dimchenko, head of the department of direct investments of the state bank VTB Capital. This bank was one of the first to fall under harsh US sanctions, which virtually paralyzed its work outside of Russia. In the UAE, Dimchenko sits on the board of directors of Micropolis Robotics, a small start-up founded in 2014 that hasn’t actually built anything to date.
Egor Romanyuk and Alexander Rugaev are part of Dimchenko’s company. Officially, they do not take responsibility for their subordinates, but their representatives work in senior positions in various state bodies in Russia. Thus, through Dimchenko, they carried out important financial assignments for government officials. Romanyuk was previously an activist in stock transactions and was the owner of two Cypriot companies – Barna Capital Group and Axima Funds Ltd., through which they withdraw funds from Russia.
Another interesting person on Dimchenko and Romaniuk’s team is a senior accountant at Micropolis Robotics, Mohammad Saeed. His older brother, Faris Saeed, is a well-known developer in the UAE and CEO of Diamond Developers.
It is possible that the director of the CIA could come to Abu Dhabi including radiation transfers about the joint disruption of the work of the Kremlin financiers.
So far, it is clear that the UAE is waiving Western sanctions not because of support for Russia, but because of long-standing grievances against Washington. The emirates assume the desire of the United States to return to negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran and the likelihood of a partial lifting of the ban against Tehran.
There is also worldwide pressure in the UAE. The Emirates have been put on the “grey list” due to money laundering problems. U.S. Vice Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo met with UAE government and company leaders to answer this question.
The UAE intends to change the situation in order to clean up the image of the country. In early June, a series of high-profile arrests had already taken place in Dubai.
It is likely that the Emirates will cease to be a haven for the Russian elite. The West is actively working on this problem. The United States is taking new actions with the participation of the Treasury and the Ministry of Justice to simplify the procedure for the arrest and confiscation of Russian assets.