The US Commerce Department announced on Friday that it will effectively ground 100 aeroplanes that had recently flown to Russia and are suspected of violating US export regulations, including one operated by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich.
Abramovich plane, 99 others targeted over Russia export violations, The list includes 99 Boeing jets operated by Russian passenger and cargo carriers such as Aeroflot, AirBridge Cargo, Utair, Nordwind, Azur Air, and Aviastar-TU – as well as Abramovich’s Gulfstream G650 – and potentially complicate Russian efforts to maintain certain foreign operations.
The Commerce Department reminded businesses and other entities worldwide that any refuelling, maintenance, repair, or spare parts or services violate US export rules and may result in US enforcement actions including “severe jail time, fines, loss of export licences, or other limitations.”
The government stated in a statement that the decision effectively stopped “international flights from Russia on these planes.” Officials told Reuters that it could also halt domestic flights within Russia as a result of US enforcement operations targeting companies that service planes in the country.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimando stated in a statement that the department is “releasing this list to send a clear message to the world that we will not tolerate Russian and Belarusian firms and oligarchs travelling freely in violation of our laws.”
The department identified the aircraft by their tail numbers, which included 33 Boeing planes operated by Aeroflot and 12 Boeing 747 freight planes run by AirBridge Cargo, a subsidiary of Russia’s largest cargo airline, Volga-Dnepr Group
Aeroflot and an Roman Abramovich spokeswoman did not immediately reply to demands for comment. Abramovich owns the English soccer team Chelsea.
Volga-Dnepr did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but announced Friday that it has suspended all flights using Boeing aircraft, citing sanctions and a decision by Bermuda’s Civil Aviation Authority to revoke the aircraft’s safety certificates.
The United States, Canada, and a large portion of Europe have all banned Russian jets from flying over their territory, forcing Russia to cancel a large portion of its foreign flights.
The limits apply to any aircraft made in the United States or with a greater than 25% US-origin regulated content that was re-exported to Russia following the implementation of additional rigorous controls on aviation-related commodities for Russia on Feb. 24.
Deputy Commerce Secretary Don Graves stated in a statement that a succession of US steps “have isolated Russia and Belarus from the global economy, and I hope that today’s action serves as a reminder to Russian enterprises and oligarchs seeking to maintain operations.”
Moscow took a first step toward maintaining its commercial fleet this week by allowing its airlines to re-register leased planes in Russia, giving local authorities direct authority over the certificates of airworthiness required for each flight.
According to Western analysts, airlines may begin stripping some of Russia’s 500 foreign-leased jets for parts within weeks or even days while looking for authentic, but resold, components from nations such as China.
Boeing informed Russian airlines earlier this month that it would withhold parts, maintenance, and technical assistance.
Since March 2, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has “identified a number of commercial and private flights from foreign countries to Russia” based on publicly available information and may add additional planes as the assessment proceeds.
According to Matthew S. Axelrod, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement, the action “let[s] Vladimir Putin’s enablers know that, as a result of their activities, they will have fewer places to hide and fewer ways to get there.”