Despite all the sanctions, many Russian oligarchs are still flying around the world.

It was one of the first sanctions imposed by the West as a result of Russian aggression: all private jets of Russian oligarchs would be seized on foreign soil. The US Department of justice hoped to put pressure on Putin’s confidants in this way.

In practice, however, many aircraft escaped the sanctions. They were either already parked in countries that did not impose sanctions, or the Russian rich managed to quickly move their private jet to “safe” places. The Telegraph’s investigation now shows that many of the private jets that could never be seized have now completely disappeared from the radar. Literally.

Official data from the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency show that a wave of new registrations of private jets happened last year. That data suggests that a lot of oligarchs just had their old device re-registered last year, with a new registration number. Most oligarchs own their private jet through complicated constructions with offshore companies making it difficult to pinpoint the precise owner. But a further analysis shows that the new registration numbers are indeed mostly linked to sanctioned oligarchs.

A re-registration is not illegal, but ensures that the owners of weather (for a while) can fly around anonymously. It is through that registration number that movements of aircraft can be tracked on open source radar systems such as, for example, Flight Radar.

Beach holidays and business trips

By monitoring a number of those aircraft, The Telegraph also determined that the re-registered private jets continue to fly around the world. The oligarchs are limited to countries that have not imposed sanctions. Beach holidays in Dubai, Mauritius or the Maldives or a business trip to China or Iran… it’s all possible.

The plan to create unrest in the intimate circles around Putin through the sanctions seems to have failed. Although they may still have an effect in the longer term. American aircraft manufacturers are no longer allowed to ship parts for aircraft with a Russian owner. Since every aircraft in the world consists of at least 25% parts produced in the USA, there is a high probability that the sanctioned Russians will no longer be able to maintain their aircraft in the long term.

About the author: Damien Karlström

The editor-in-chief worked for many years as a literary editor in Bern's leading publications. Over time, I decided to become the editor-in-chief. The main direction of materials is international relations and society.

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