Daily: Putin superyacht spotted off Estonian coast followed closely by PPA

Saaremaa shoreline.
Saaremaa shoreline. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

A $119 million, 81-meter superyacht owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin was photographed off the coast of the Western Estonian island of Saaremaa in late September, and according to Estonian daily Postimees, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) had likewise watched the passing vessel like a hawk.

The Kosatka ("Killer Whale" in Russian), which until recently had borne the name Graceful, had been spotted off the Estonian coast by theyachtphoto.com photographer Carl Groll on September 25, Postimees writes (link in Estonian).

Rene Hartõkainen, head of the PPA's Maritime Security Group confirmed that the yacht in question entered the Estonian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) at 11:28 a.m. on September 25 at a distance of 21.8 nautical miles, or approximately 40 kilometers, traveling within the EEZ until its departure from the zone at 12:26 a.m. on September 26.

The PPA official said that the vessel's automatic identification (AIS), which transmits a ship's position to other ships and vessel traffic services (VTS), was shut off and that a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) drone had been used to visually confirm the identity of the yacht; the PPA likewise tracked the vessel's movement via maritime surveillance radar.

While current sanctions don't permit vessels sailing under the flag of the Russian Federation to enter EU member states' ports, coastal states lack legal grounds for detaining a vessel traveling through their EEZ, Hartõkainen said, likewise citing the freedom of movement guaranteed under international maritime law.

Putin's second-largest yacht

Last tracked in Kaliningrad on August 30 according to Marine Traffic, the Kosatka was spotted traveling northbound, possibly en route to St. Petersburg, escorted by an armed Russian Coast Guard Vessel, Forbes staff writer Giacomo Tognini tweeted Tuesday.

The Kosatka is the second-largest superyacht linked to Putin, after the $509 million, 140-meter Scheherazade, which was frozen in Italy this May.

It was sanctioned under its previous name, Graceful, by the U.S. Treasury on June 2 "as blocked property in which President Vladimir Putin has an interest."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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