Britain sanctions Russia’s “Nickel King” Vladimir Potanin

Vladimir Potanin. (Image: The Kremlin.)

The British government announced on Wednesday sanctions on oligarch Vladimir Potanin, known as Russia’s “Nickel King”, who has been snapping up assets from companies exiting his home country over the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Potanin, considered Russia’s second-richest man, is one of several multibillionaires targeted by Britain’s fresh sanctions, which hit President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Anna Tsivileva, Putin’s first cousin once removed and head of major Russian coal producer JSC Kolmar Group, and the company itself, have also been sanctioned, the UK government said.

“Today’s sanctions show that nothing and no one is off the table, including Putin’s inner circle,” a spokesperson said in the statement.

Potanin, a key supporter of the Kremlin, has continued to amass wealth by acquiring stranded assets including Rosbank and United Card Services, the Russian unit of US-listed Global Payments, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said. He has also bought shares in Tinkoff Bank in the period since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

It wasn’t clear whether the sanctions on Potanin would extend to Norilsk Nickel, or Nornickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and refined nickel, led by the Russian oligarch and in which he has a 36% stake.

Potanin, whose net worth is $30.2 billion according to Forbes’ real-time index, served as deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin and made sure to remain in Putin’s good books.

Two years ago, the mining tycoon paid a $2 billion fine after Nornickel angered the president by causing Russia’s biggest Arctic oil spill.

Potanin was sanctioned by Canada in April.