The draft to join Vladimir Putin’s military and fight in Ukraine has prompted a wave of wealthy Russians to seek refuge on the faraway Caribbean island of Grenada.
With affluent Russian citizens looking to evade the military draft, there has been a surge in applications for Grenada citizenship through an investment initiative, Richard Hallam, a special adviser to the program, told Bloomberg.
A sole applicant can make a minimum investment of $150,000 to receive a Grenada passport, or buy a government-approved real estate property worth at least $350,000.
Passport holders can then travel without a visa to over 100 destinations including China, the United Kingdom and Europe’s Schengen area.
It would also give them access to the US, which has an investor treaty with Grenada that allows citizens to apply for non-immigrant visas.
Putin’s military call-up, in which the Kremlin seeks to draft some 300,000 men for the fighting in Ukraine, prompted protests and chaos on Russia’s borders — and has caused many men to look for ways to evade the draft.
Earlier this year, Grenada had banned Russians from applying for citizenship. The move was made along with several other Caribbean nations in March, as many Russians were looking to avoid sanctions and the ongoing conflict of the war.
But Grenada lifted the ban in June, though other countries like Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda have kept theirs in place.
Since Grenada’s reversal of the ban, applications for the country’s investor visas have nearly quadrupled to almost 200, according to Hallam.
Many countries in the region have made it more difficult and expensive for Russians to visit. For Russia’s wealthier citizens, this has meant moving their assets to places like Dubai and Turkey to avoid Western sanctions.
“If you weren’t pro-Putin and you were still in the country, you couldn’t get out,” Hallam said. “Just because one particular Russian invaded a country, you can’t decide all Russians are evil.”