US says flights by Aeroflot, Abramovich violated sanctions on Russia

An Airbus A320 passenger plane of Aeroflot lands at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, on March 12, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Aeroplanes owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Russian state carrier Aeroflot, among others, have violated US sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, Washington said on Friday (March 18).

The United States earlier this month banned US-made planes or those with 25 per cent American parts from entering Russia without authorisation, but the Commerce Department said several aircraft had done so in contravention of the sanctions.

These include a Gulfstream G650ER owned by Abramovich, who also owns Chelsea football club, as well as Boeing 737 and 777 aircraft operated by Aeroflot.

The department, which said it aims to ground the planes, warned that providing any service to them, including refuelling, would violate US rules and could result in fines and jail time.

"We are publishing this list to put the world on notice - we will not allow Russian and Belarusian companies and oligarchs to travel with impunity in violation of our laws," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

Western countries including the US and the European Union have imposed stiff sanctions on a range of Russian industries and wealthy individuals seen as supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine late last month. The penalties also targeted Belarus for its support.

All of the flights that violated the sanctions were operated or owned by Russian nationals, Commerce said.

Other planes Commerce identified include Boeing 777s and 737s operated by Nordwind Airlines, Boeing 767s and 737s flown by Utair, and Boeing 767s, 757s 777s and a 737 operated by Azur Air.

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