London, May 19 (PTI) Russia’s state-owned and largest airline Aeroflot, Ural Airlines and Rossiya Airlines will now be unable to sell their lucrative landing slots at UK airports as part of new sanctions imposed by the Boris Johnson government on Thursday.
The additional sanctions being imposed as a reaction against the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, follow an earlier move to ban Russian airlines from landing rights in the UK. The UK Foreign Office said the move would prevent Russia from cashing in on a lucrative resource estimated at GBP 50 million. “As long as Russian President Putin continues his barbarous assault on Ukraine, we will continue to target the Russian economy,” said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
“We’ve already closed our airspace to Russian airlines. Today we’re making sure they can’t cash in their lucrative landing slots at our airports. Every economic sanction reinforces our clear message to Putin – we will not stop until Ukraine prevails,” she said. The news comes as UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps takes up the Presidency of the International Transport Forum, which he will use to call for a united response against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The UK was one of the first nations to implement sanctions on Putin and his allies; we forbade entrance to their ships and planes, strangling them of the privilege to benefit from global trade and commerce,” said Shapps. “Today, the UK government has built on the strong action we have already taken against Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot, along with Rossiya and Ural Airlines. This means they will be unable to use their expensive landing slots at UK airports. Our actions will also prevent Russia from selling the slots, and cashing in on up to GBP 50 million,” he said.
Besides a ban from UK’s airspace, Russian ships are banned from UK waters and the export of aviation goods and technology is also prohibited under the sanctions regime. Under the transport sanctions regime, it is a criminal offence for any Russian aircraft to fly or land in the UK, with the British government having the power to remove aircraft belonging to designated Russian individuals and entities from the UK aircraft register.
For British nationals leaving Russia, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation will issue a General Licence to permit them to pay for a ticket for flights originating in Russia. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) claimed that international sanctions are having a “significant impact on Putin and his war machine”.
Russia’s own Central Bank has admitted that sanctions are a major challenge for Russian supply chains, it noted. According to the FCDO, the sanctions mean that several weapons manufacturers having to suspend their activity due to a lack of parts; defence company capabilities are restricted, limiting Russia’s ability to replace advanced tech, including drones; and Russia’s domestic vehicle sales have dropped by 80 per cent partly due to a lack of components – which is also reducing their ability to produce military vehicles.
“Russia’s vital exports of energy are also shrinking – with crude oil exports down 30 per cent in April and expected to fall further as sanctions bite. Through coordinated action across the G7 to phase out oil imports, alongside the banning of critical oil refining and catalyst goods, international allies are tightening the vice on Putin’s most trusted revenue stream,” the FCDO said.
The Foreign Office notes that while the Kremlin has managed to stabilise the rouble, Russia is still heading for the “deepest recession” since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Forecasts show Russia’s GDP shrinking by between 8.5 per cent and 15 per cent this year, with the International Monetary Fund expecting the economy to shrink a further 2.3 per cent in 2023.
The UK government has also sanctioned more than 1,000 people and over 100 businesses since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February.