Russia Seizes $10 Billion Worth of Foreign Planes Under New Putin Law

Russia seizes $10 billion worth of European lessors' planes, under new law signed by Putin 6 photos
Photo: / Robert Aardenburg
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“Two can play that game” would apply here, but this is a game with the most serious consequences. In light of European sanctions against Russia, President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that allows Russian carriers to seize all the foreign aircraft currently in circulation for future domestic use.
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, and NATO and the European Union responded by sanctioning Russia economically. Among these sanctions is the one that says European lessors of aircraft have until March 28 to pull all their planes out of Russia, regardless of standing contractual obligations. NBC News estimates that’s about 500 passenger planes worth $10 billion, most of them used by Aeroflot and S7, the country’s biggest carriers.

On Monday, Putin signed a law that allows Russian carriers to hold on to these aircraft and continue using them domestically. As of the moment of press, Russia has closed all its European borders, so no passenger planes are getting out. State news agency TASS has confirmed the new law, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

To put it in very simple terms, all the airplanes that Russian carriers had on a lease from European companies are now “trapped” in the country. Under recent sanctions, they would have had to be returned to their respective lessors, but Putin is saying Russia gets to keep them. Russia is taking national aviation offline, apparently choosing to operate it outside of international laws.

The other huge issue with this is passenger safety. Most of these leased airplanes are from makers Boeing and Airbus, and both have ceased operations in Russia under current sanctions.

Whatever aircraft are left inside the country will have to do without basic maintenance and repairs or even standardized checks. In turn, this will probably force Russian carriers to turn to Chinese companies for parts or to cannibalize planes on the ground, both of which have potentially dangerous consequences for the safety of future flights.
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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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