Despite sanctions imposed immediately after the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has continued importing original aircraft spare parts, according to a report by the independent investigative outlet Important Stories (IStories). The publication’s findings indicate that from March 2022 to March 2023, Russia imported a minimum of 18 billion roubles ($187 million as of September 13) worth of authentic spare parts for Boeing and Airbus airplanes.
The bulk of these imports originated from purchases in the United Arab Emirates, China, and Turkey. The Dubai-based company ATS Heavy Equipment & Machinery alone made more than 700 deliveries for a total of 3.9 billion roubles ($40.5 million) during the year. These parts were primarily intended for the Aeroflot group, which includes subsidiaries Rossiya Airlines and low-cost Pobeda, in addition to the eponymous airline.
The publication’s findings revealed that Russian nationals Irina Gorokhovskaya and Ilya Rysysev as the beneficiaries of the UAE-registered company Griffon, which supplied spare parts to Russia valued at 1.3 billion roubles ($13.5 million). Andrei Ulyashev, Griffon’s managing director, told IStories that the company didn’t sell Western-made parts to Russia as “these payments are not allowed by the bank.” He stopped talking to journalists after they sent him a list of deliveries made by the firm.
Suppliers of aircraft components to Russia were also identified in Moldova, such as the Max Jet Service company, and even within “unfriendly” European countries, where parts were funneled through intermediaries from CIS member states. Customs records indicate that the Russian airline I Fly procured components from the Lithuanian company Right Direction Aero. Pavel Chalapov, the director and owner of the firm, clarified that he sold these components to the Kyrgyz company Cargoline, whose owner claimed that they did not engage in business with Russia. Interestingly, Cargoline subsequently re-exported these parts after purchasing them from the Czech company Apram Aerospace.
Cargoline was notably registered in the spring of 2022, shortly after the imposition of sanctions that banned the supply of aircraft parts to Russia. In July of the same year, the United States levied sanctions against the company.
According to IStories, one of the prominent buyers of aviation components in Russia is Moscow-based Protektor. During the year when sanctions were enforced in 2022, its revenue surged nearly 200-fold, reaching 4.6 billion roubles ($47.8 million).