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Russia files complaint to UN aviation organization over sanctions

by Nate Ostiller October 11, 2023 4:17 PM 2 min read
An Airbus A321-211 aircraft of Russian airline Aeroflot in long-term parking in Geneva in March 2022. Swiss sanctions banned Aeroflot from using Swiss airspace. (Fabrice/Coffini/ AFP)
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Russia's foreign ministry officially filed a complaint with the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Oct. 11, saying that some of its members were acting in a discriminatory fashion towards Russian aircraft.

The ministry called unfair the ban placed by EU countries, as well as the U.S., U.K., and Canada on Russian airlines from operating in their airspace, the export of aviation parts and insurance for Russian airlines, and the sharing of meteorological information.

These actions "jeopardized the safety of international civil aviation and seriously undermined the mutual trust that has been the basis of the international aviation system for almost 80 years," according to the complaint.

After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the E.U. and other countries named in the complaint swiftly moved to sanction and isolate Russia. Among these policies was a ban on the ability of Russian airlines or Russian-owned airplanes to use E.U. airspace, as well as prohibiting the export of aviation-related technology.

Attempts to circumvent sanctions ran afoul of international safety regulations, effectively preventing a majority of international flights. According to a report on Russia's airlines by the Carnegie Endowment, domestic flights accounted for 90% of all routes flown by Russian airlines in 2022. In 2019, this number was 57%.

The Russian government staved off disaster by propping up the industry and focusing on domestic flights, but sanctions on airplane parts and technology have continued to deplete airline stocks.

Russian airplanes have become increasingly less safe- in one illustrative incident, three planes from Russia's largest carrier Aeroflot broke down within one day.

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