Ukrainian sailor who sank Russian billionaire boss’s £5m yacht signs up to fight for his homeland

He opened valves to allow water in and later confessed to sabotaging 156ft luxury yacht Lady Anastasia

Moment Russian missile strikes Kharkiv adminstration building

A Ukrainian sailor who tried to sink a superyacht allegedly belonging to his Russian boss in Spain after the war broke out, is determined to sign up with the Ukrainian army to fight for his homeland.

Taras Ostapchuk, 55, a mechanical engineer, is headed towards the war-torn Ukrainian capital of Kyiv by train after flying to Warsaw in Poland. He shared a picture with a Ukrainian road sign in the background, according to a Spanish newspaper Ultima Hora.

"I am going to fight for my country,” he told the newspaper.

"I have never picked up a gun, but if necessary I will," he said.

Mr Ostapchuk was arrested in Mallorca, Spain, for allegedly sabotaging a €7m (£5.8m) luxury yacht named ‘Lady Anastasia’ which belonged to Alexander Mijeev by flooding the engine room of the vessel.

The 156-foot-long boat with five cabins and a jacuzzi is owned by the CEO of Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-owned weapon supplier of defence conglomerate Rostec.

Mr Ostapchuk said he will talk to a military commander and join the Ukrainian army in Kyiv where his son will be reportedly waiting for him.

“As soon as I arrive in the first city in Ukraine, I will look for a military commander and ask him if they need me,” he told the Spanish media shortly before his departure.

“I said to myself: Why do I need a job if I don’t have my country? I had a good job as chief mechanic on the ship and a good salary, but I’m going to fight for my country,” he added.

“I lost my job, but that’s not a problem. I will not lose my country.”

He said he is “not a hero” but he will pick up a gun if needed for his country and even if he is old he has a lot of experience in mechanics.

He was arrested on 26 February but released on detention a day later on Sunday with a charge. It is not clear whether his departure from the country is in violation of any law while charges by the Spanish police remain unclear.

His lawyer Neus Canylles said Mr Ostapchuk wanted economic revenge against his boss because he was allegedly “responsible for all the missiles that were falling in Kyiv”.

“As he has told in his story: He arrived at the ship, closed the fuel hatches, lowered the electricity and then opened the two water inlet valves that caused sea water to start coming in,” the lawyer said.

This infographic, created for The Independent by statistics agency Statista, shows the relative military strength of Ukraine and Russia

The sailor claimed that he took the decision to sink the shop after seeing the devastation caused in Ukraine by a Russian missile in a residential building in Kyiv, which was similar to where he lived.

He said he “understood” that the missile was produced by a company that belongs to Mr Mijeev.

Hours after being released in Mallorca where the yacht was docked and just before boarding a flight to the Polish capital, Warsaw, he told Associated Press that he will go to Ukraine to defend his country.

“All Ukrainian citizens must be defenders of our fatherland because it is being subject to Russian aggression,” he said. “We must stop this war.

After his release, he had said: “I don’t regret anything I’ve done and I would do it again.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in