Ukraine Crisis: U.S Takes Enforcement Action on Aeroflot, Azur Air & UTAir

Photo Credit: Emil Bree/AviationSource

LONDON – On April 7, the United States Department of Commerce announced enforcement actions against three major Russian airlines following U.S. Government violations in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Causing Damage to The Carriers

The enforcements were issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod.

The Three Russian airlines that are involved as part of these actions are the Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, the leisure carrier Azur Air and UTair.

Three Temporary Denial Orders (TDOs) were issued to the airlines following violations of Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to prevent them from exporting and reexports from the US.

All three TDOs have validation of 180 days but can be renewed if deemed necessary.

These TDOs come into place following the Biden Administration outlining more sanctions against Russia following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, of which the three main sanctions are as follows.

  • On February 24, the BIS had imposed controls on aviation-related items/equipment to Russia, including a license requirement for the export, re-export, or transfer in-country to Russia of any aircraft or parts.
  • On March 2, the BIS had excluded any aircraft that was registered in, owned, controlled by, or under charter or lease by Russia or any national member of Russia from being eligible for license exception Aircraft, Vessels, or Spacecraft (AVS).
  • On March 18, the BIS then publicly released a list of both private and commercial aircraft that it was tracking where they were likely to be operating in violation of the EAR.

Mainly, from the March 18 list release, the BIS had seen all three of the named airlines breaking those EARs where they were seen operating aircraft to some international destinations such as Beijing, Dubai, Istanbul, and Delhi, then subsequently operating the same aircraft on domestic routes within Russia.

Department of Commerce’s Comments

Commerce Secretary, Gina M. Raimondo said, “The Biden Administration has imposed historic sanctions on Russia for its unwarranted aggression in Ukraine.”

“With today’s temporary denial orders, the Department of Commerce takes another significant action to hold Putin and his enablers accountable for their inexcusable actions.”

“We are cutting off not only their ability to access items from the United States but also reexports of U.S.-origin items from abroad.”

“Any companies that flout our export controls, specifically those who do so to the benefit of Vladimir Putin and the detriment of the Ukrainian people, will feel the full force of the Department’s enforcement.”

Adding to this Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves said:

“The images we are seeing coming out of Ukraine demonstrate Vladimir Putin’s barbarism, brutality, and blatant disregard for human life.”

“The Department of Commerce, along with the entire Biden-Harris Administration, has taken swift and unprecedented action to ensure that Russia, and its enablers, pay a price for their actions.”

“We are already seeing the impact of the Commerce Department’s export controls, with U.S. exports to Russia of items subject to new licensing requirements having decreased by 99% by value compared to the same time period last year.”

“With today’s action, we send a clear message to those who deliberately disobey those same controls.”

Finally, Matthew S. Axelrod also said, “Companies that violate the expansive export controls we have imposed on Russia will find themselves the target of Commerce Department enforcement action.”

“With our allies and partners, we will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they respond to Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion of their country.”


These new enforcement actions will of course make it more difficult for the three carriers to maintain their fleets going forward.

This, of course, is probably why the Russian government will be adopting the Iranian approach when it comes to aircraft maintenance.

For now, it seems like the West is doing what it can in terms of sanctions, and maintains the belief that direct military involvement will be used as a last resort.

Direct military involvement could be likely, especially with the news that NATO infringed Russian airspace to intercept an Air Serbia Airbus A330.

More to follow on AviationSource.

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