Rich Russians vacation in Florida amid Ukraine crisis

Russia At War

MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday imposing sanctions that target two Russian-backed territories in eastern Ukraine. The move prevents any sort of investment or trade between people in the U.S. and those in the regions, declared independent by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While that seems worlds away, there’s one community in south Florida where Monday’s news hits close to home. Little Moscow is an area just north of Miami Beach and has become a hotspot for some of the richest Russians to spend their winters.

The area, also known as Moscow by the sea, is formally called Sunny Isles Beach.

Top Russian realtor Lana Bell showed NewsNation some of the properties, including a Russian-owned multimillion dollar oceanfront condo.

“They love to be here, spend their money. and enjoy their life,” Bell said.

The wealthy Russians didn’t want to go on camera, but told NewsNation there is concern about future sanctions and whether their money in Russian banks will be blacklisted from buying property in America.

So far, Bell says it hasn’t been a problem.

“I have not had trouble whatsoever,” Bell said.

But if new sanctions do in fact impact the lives of some of Russia’s rich and elite and their ability to spend abroad, could it perhaps hold off Putin from starting a war?

“When Putin’s four friends from St. Petersburg were sanctioned in March 2014 by the U.S. Treasury, Putin complained publicly no less than five times and mentioned them all by name and said how unjust it was they were hit and he even claimed this was against human rights,” said Dr. Anders Aslund, an economist and Russia expert.

Aslund says it likely won’t be enough to change his mind about an invasion, however.

“I don’t think there is much hope,” Aslund said. “Some, but very little, I would say.”

Almost all of the wealthy Russians said they support Putin.

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