The United States has filed orders prohibiting Aeroflot PJSC, Russia's largest airline, and two other airlines from getting parts and services from the United States for their planes, a move that authorities think would limit their ability to fly in the future. The Commerce Department issued denial orders for Aeroflot, Azur Air, and UTair Aviation PJSC on Thursday, marking the first enforcement action for violations of US export prohibitions implemented in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Some of the airlines' jets were previously identified by Commerce as part of a larger group of over 100 commercial and private planes from the United States that continued to fly to or within Russia without permission. The action on Thursday broadens that effort to include the whole fleet.
The airlines "will largely be unable to continue flying either internationally or domestically over time, as they are now cut off from the international support and U.S. parts and related services they need to maintain and support their fleets," Matthew Axelrod, assistant secretary for export enforcement at Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security, said on Thursday.
The measure against Russian airlines is the latest in a series of restrictions imposed on the country in response to claims that Russian military committed crimes in Ukraine.
The US imposed sanctions against two of Russia's top banks as well as two of President Vladimir Putin's daughters on Wednesday.
Azur Air's 34 planes are all Boeing Co. jets from the United States, which means the airline won't be able to operate or maintain them, and the carrier would likely stop flying completely, according to Commerce authorities. UTair has 48 planes from the United States, whereas Aeroflot has 59 planes from the United States.
The airlines' denial orders, which were published on Thursday, are valid for up to 180 days and may be renewed, according to Graves.
"Today, we demonstrate the force of the rule of law, as well as the consequences for those who try to break it," he added.