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Enforcement Edge
March 21, 2022

Commerce Department Targets Aircraft Recently Flown to Russia in Violation of US Export Controls

Enforcement Edge: Shining Light on Government Enforcement

On March 18, 2022, the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) identified 100 aircraft recently exported to Russia in violation of recent export control restrictions issued by the United States against Russia. While the exports are violations themselves, the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) also prohibit any person anywhere from providing any form of service to these identified aircraft, absent specific authorization from BIS.

Beginning February 24, 2022, extensive new license requirements were imposed on a wide range of US-origin and foreign-produced items, including specified aircraft and aircraft parts, if destined for Russia. Similar controls were imposed on March 2, 2022 for items destined for Belarus. Pursuant to these rules, one must possess a license in order to export to Russia, reexport to Russia, or transfer within Russia any aircraft manufactured in the United States or manufactured in a foreign country if it contains more than 25 percent of US-origin, controlled content.

BIS identified 100 commercial and private aircraft—all of which are owned or controlled by, or under charter or lease to, Russia or Russian nationals—that flew from a third country to Russia. However, it is not just the export of the aircraft that violates US export controls. Any further action taken regarding the 100 aircraft is also subject to the EAR, specifically prohibitions in General Prohibition Ten (GP 10).

The listed aircraft include:

  • One plane owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich
  • 33 planes operated by Aeroflot, the largest airline in Russia
  • 12 planes operated by AirBridge Cargo, the largest Russian cargo airline
  • 5 planes operated by Aviastar-TU, a cargo charter airline operating out of Russia
  • 23 planes operated by Azur Air, a Russian charter airline
  • 14 planes operated by Nordwind, a Russian leisure airline
  • 12 planes operated by Utair, a Russian airline

GP 10 prohibits proceeding with a transaction knowing that a violation of the EAR has occurred or is about to occur. Therefore, any person anywhere is prohibited from selling, transferring, exporting, reexporting, financing, ordering, buying, removing, concealing, storing, using, loaning, disposing of, transporting, forwarding, or otherwise servicing, in whole or in part, the identified aircraft. Practically speaking, this means that nearly all activities associated with the above-identified aircraft may violate US law.

In a statement, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said, “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.” BIS also has cautioned that its list of aircraft is not exhaustive, nor is GP 10 enforcement limited to aircraft.

This latest action signals the United States’ intention to enforce the latest sanctions and export control restrictions, which extend to many US-origin and foreign-produced items. We are aware of multiple instances where BIS has contacted individual companies to remind them of their obligations under US export control laws. Individuals and companies should be aware that GP 10 restrictions will not apply only to the listed aircraft but also to any situation in which a person knows there is or will be a violation in connection with any item subject to the EAR.

We will continue to monitor the sanctions and export control restrictions as they emerge.

© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2022 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.