Russian airlines, bypassing sanctions, purchased spare parts for Boeing and Airbus aircraft worth 18 billion rubles ($189 million) from March 2022 to March 2023, and among the suppliers were firms from the European Union and the United States, Important Stories found out.
Based on data from customs declarations, the publication’s journalists found that Russian airlines imported the most aircraft parts from the UAE, China and Turkey.
The largest supplier of components was the UAE – companies registered there sold goods worth almost 9 billion rubles ($95 million) to airlines from the Russian Federation over the year. Moreover, only one Dubai company, Ats Heavy Equipment & Machinery, made over 700 deliveries of components to the Russian Federation in just over a year for 3.9 billion rubles ($41 million). The main buyer of this company was Aeroflot.
Investigators note that some companies with foreign registration were owned by citizens of the Russian Federation. As an example, the publication cites the Griffon company from the UAE, one of the co-owners of which, Russian Ilya Rysev, founded two companies in Russia – Simplex and Ameritech, which supply aircraft parts.
China is in second place in the supply of aircraft parts to Russia: Chinese firms supplied 5 billion rubles ($52 million) worth of spare parts for Boeing and Airbus to the Russian Federation; Turkey, which exported aircraft goods worth 2 billion rubles ($21 million) to Russia, is in third place.
Also on the list of companies selling aircraft parts to Russian airlines, investigators found companies from Lithuania, Moldova, the Czech Republic, Germany, the UK and the USA. Journalists note that the volume of supplies from companies from these countries is not comparable to those exported by companies from the UAE, China and Turkey, but they did not stop sales of parts even after the imposition of sanctions.
Thus, the Lithuanian company Right Direction Aero supplied spare parts from European and American manufacturers, including Boeing, to Russia for more than 145 million rubles ($1.5 million). Its main buyer was the Russian airline IFly.
Director of Right Direction Aero Pavel Chalapov, in response to a request from Important Stories, said that he did not sell anything in the Russian Federation, thoroughly checks his clients for connections with Russia and obliges them to sign declarations that they will not resell spare parts to people and companies under sanctions. When the publication provided him with a list of parts shipped for I-Fly, Chalapov stated that he sold these components to the Kyrgyz company Cargoline. It was registered in March 2022, when Airbus, Boeing and other spare parts manufacturers had already refused to supply goods to Russian airlines.
Investigators found that Cargoline also purchased aircraft parts from other European suppliers. In particular, from the Czech company Apram Aerospace, which, as the publication notes, continued to sell components for aircraft to Russia even after the start of full-scale Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Earlier, The New York Times wrote that despite the sanctions imposed against Russia, in 2022, millions of dollars worth of aircraft parts produced by a number of Western European and American companies were imported into the country.
In particular, a number of sanctioned Russian airlines, including Aeroflot, Rossiya, Pobeda, Ural, UTair and S7 Airlines, thanks to established schemes to circumvent sanctions, received thousands of shipments of parts for aircraft from Boeing, Airbus and other companies. These schemes, according to investigators, involved straw buyers. Most of the products were routed through countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, China and the Maldives.
After the start of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States and other Western countries imposed sanctions against Russia, which also affected the supply of aviation components to the country. A number of Russian airlines were subject to sanctions, including Aeroflot, its subsidiary Rossiya.