Some Russian airlines are weighing relocation to Turkey as a way to lease new aircraft and access repair facilities while avoiding the crippling western sanctions that followed Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. This nefarious plan should merit international scorn.
Russian Airlines Hatch Nefarious Plan To Dodge Sanctions By Relocating to Friendly Nations Like Turkey
The game works like this: carriers like Nordwind Airlines or Azur Air are Russian-based carriers, but their parent companies are controlled by Turkish investors. Unlike state-owned carriers like Aeroflot or Rossiya, these parent companies are currently exempt from Russian sanctions. By creating new subsidiaries or wholly new airlines in Turkey, new planes could be leased, spare parts accessed, and maintenance performed in accordance with international record-keeping standards.
These planes could then be used to transport Russians not only between Turkey and the Russian Federation, but on domestic flights within Russia and to other friendly nations, where the risk of aircraft seizure would be limited. Currently, Russian carriers have had to severely restrict air travel even to friendly nations for fear of aircraft repossession.
But wait, isn’t this just a thin façade that the West should see right through? Of course. But throwing Turkey, a NATO member into the mix complicates matters. Embargoes and sanctions are not nearly as effective when a hole the size of Turkey tacitly allows Russian companies to evade punishment.
Don’t expect Turkey to get in the way. As authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosts Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro today, the relationship between Turkey and Russia remains close. Turkey, whose tourist economy is heavily reliant upon Russian visitors, has used the War in Ukraine to increase flights to Russia and roll out the red carpet to Russian tourists who find themselves personae non gratae elsewhere.
Erdogan has threatened to derail the ascension of Finland and Sweden into NATO, citing their support for Kurdish separatists Turkey calls terrorists but most of the world calls freedom fighters (YPG). Meanwhile, Turkey continues to occupy the northern half of Cyprus and has become increasingly aggressive in cross-border incursions into Syria.
How does this all play in? Turkey will be a safe haven for Russian companies to dodge western sanctions; a gray area in which Turkish “ownership” of companies that are based in Russia and whose primary business is in Russia currently provides exemption from sanctions.
Bloomberg broke the story and there is no comment right now from the carriers involved. Hopefully as more information emerges, western powers will use their influence to cut-off a clear ploy to dodge sanctions.
Armenia is also being considered as a base for Russian carriers to re-organize in a way they hope would evade sanctions.
My editorial slant shines more clearly in this story than in most…I don’t deny it. But even the consideration of creating new airlines to evade sanctions really strikes me as an insult by Turkey toward Ukraine, which is facing an uphill battle to secure its homeland from an illegal, illogical, irrational, and impracticable war waged by a delusional little man from Russia called Vladimir Putin.