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US issues warrant for $25m aeroplane owned by Russian oil giant

The US government alleges that the Boeing-made plane violated sanctions and trade laws by traveling to and from Russia.

The United States government has sought and obtained a warrant to seize a $25 million Russian airliner, a statement released Wednesday said.

The US-made aircraft, a Boeing 737-7JU, is accused of traveling to Russia from abroad, in violation of US law and sanctions introduced after Moscow’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The plane was last in the US in 2014, according to the statement from the US Attorney’s Office for New York’s Eastern District. But the US claims the plane “has flown in and out of Russia at least seven times, in violation of federal law.”

The Boeing would be owned by the PJSC Rosneft Oil Company, headquartered in Moscow. It is one of the world’s largest publicly traded oil companies.

“Today’s enforcement action demonstrates that there is a price to be paid for Russian companies and oligarchs that blatantly evade sanctions imposed by the United States in response to the unjust war against the people of Ukraine,” said US attorney Breon. Peace in the press release.

The U.S. government released this image of the plane identified in Wednesday’s warrant (Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice)

Rosneft CEO Igor Ivanovich Sechin was previously sanctioned by the US in 2014 for his ties to the Russian government.

At the time, then-US President Barack Obama issued an executive order targeting individuals deemed “responsible for or complicit in” efforts to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and democracy.

That year, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and attempted to seize territory in Ukraine’s eastern provinces. The sanctions frozen Sechin’s assets in the US and prevented anyone in the country from doing business with him.

In February 2022, Russia escalated its conflict with Ukraine and launched a massive invasion with missile strikes across the country. The US has responded with aid to Ukraine and measures to isolate Russia from the international economy.

On the first anniversary of the invasion last month, the US Treasury Department announced it had introduced more than 2,500 sanctions in the past year alone.

The transfer of a US-made aircraft to Russia not only violated those sanctions, but it also violated the Export Control Reform Act, US officials said Wednesday.

That law, which took effect in 2018, gives the US president control over the export and transfer of items to “protect national security”.

“By violating the Department of Commerce’s export controls, Rosneft turned its plane into contraband,” said Andrew Adams, director of Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency initiative launched in March 2022 to address U.S. sanctions and economic measures following the invasion of Ukraine. .

In August 2022, the US issued an order for another Russian-owned US-built aircraft, a Boeing 737-7EM.

The plane, valued at $45 million, was also accused of flying in and out of Russia in violation of US sanctions. It was also owned by a Russian multinational energy company, the Moscow-based PJSC Lukoil Oil Company.