December 1, 2022

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Britain seizes private plane suspected of links to Russian oligarchs

Britain seizes private plane suspected of links to Russian oligarchs

An aerial view of the Norman Foster hangars at Farnborough Airport, formerly the Royal Aircraft Corporation.

David Goddard | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom said on Wednesday it had seized a private jet linked to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich under new aviation sanctions imposed on the pariah state amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The plane is said to be linked to Soviet-born billionaire Eugene Shvidler, who is close to outgoing Chelsea FC owner Abramovich, who last week embarked on a flight. Fire sells his British assets Amid growing pressure on President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the plane was detained at Farnborough Airport, on the outskirts of London, and was awaiting further investigation.

This is part of new sanctions, set to be enshrined in legislation on Wednesday, that give authorities the right to seize any Russian aircraft and ban exports of aviation or space-related goods to Russia.

This includes a ban on any aircraft owned, operated or leased by any person associated with Russia or specific individuals or entities, and will include the authority to detain any aircraft owned by persons associated with Russia, the British Foreign Office said in a statement.

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The measures also make it a crime for any Russian aircraft to fly or land in the UK

It is not yet clear whether the captured aircraft, which is registered in Luxembourg and not Russia, falls under the new jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. However, authorities said they are working with the Civil Aviation Authority to clarify the details.

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Shvidler, who made his fortune during the privatization of Russian industry, certainly has his direct connections with the Kremlin as well as through his personal and business ties with Abramovich. Abramovich himself has so far avoided any direct penalties.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the new measures were aimed at increasing economic pressure on Putin and his allies.

“Banning Russian-flagged aircraft from the UK and making it a criminal offense to fly them will lead to more economic pain for Russia and those close to the Kremlin.” Truss said in a statement.

The ban on the export of aviation or space-related goods extends to insurance and reinsurance policies. This means that insurance coverage on existing policies will be withdrawn and UK-based insurers and reinsurers will not be able to pay claims on existing policies in those sectors.