Russian Oligarchs' Jets Flying Over Europe Despite Sanctions: Report

Private jets and helicopters belonging to Russian oligarchs are reportedly still flying in the European Union's (EU) airspace despite sanctions imposed after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine.

Despite flight bans and sanctions imposed after the Ukraine war began on February 24, at least 30 flights allegedly belonging to Russian businessmen have flown over the territory of Europe, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the European Union would close its airspace to Russian airlines and private jets on February 27—three days after Putin's war began.

"These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off, or overfly the territory of the EU," von der Leyen said at the time.

Alisher Usmanov
According to a report, an aircraft owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov flew from the Munich Airport a day after the EU’s airspace was shut off to Russian airlines and private jets. Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Usmanov during an awards ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 29, 2013. Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

Since then, Welt am Sonntag has tracked at least 30 flights of private jets and helicopters owned or controlled by Russian businessmen, using data publicly available via flight tracking websites.

In mid-March, British authorities seized an aircraft owned by Russian oligarch and billionaire oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler. Before his $13 million Cessna Citation Latitude jet was seized, it had flown through the EU eight times, including several times through Germany's airspace.

The last time the aircraft flew to London from Hamburg on March 18, no one stopped its departure, according to the news outlet.

Flight tracking data also show that an aircraft owned by 68-year-old Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov set off from Munich Airport on February 28—a day after the EU's airspace was shut off to Russian airlines and private jets.

And on March 2, a Bombardier aircraft with the registration number T7-7AA, registered in San Marino and operated by a Swiss company, flew from Nice to Istanbul. The aircraft belongs to Russian businessman Albert Avdolyan, according to Welt am Sonntag.

A private jet belonging to one of Russia's richest men, Viktor Vekselberg, also flew from Basel in April through EU airspace and landed in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan in April.

The newspaper also reported that the helicopter of Russian businessman Alexander Zanadvorov flew over France at least eight times.

Many Western countries have also issued widespread sanctions on Russian oligarchs as part of measures to pressure Putin over the Ukraine war, which began more than one hundred days ago.

Some Russian oligarchs, including Oleg Tinkov, Roman Abramovich, Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridman have spoken out against the war.

Newsweek reached out to Usmanov, Avdolyan, Vekselberg, and the European Commission for comment.