$90 Million Russian Jetliner Lost in Ukraine Invasion

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On Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, US authorities in New York obtained a warrant to seize an Airbus A319-100 owned by Russian oligarch Andrei Vladimirovich Skoch, a billionaire steel-maker who serves in the federation’s State Duma. US Department of Justice photo.

The latest aircraft lost by Russia in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine is a $90 million airliner parked in Kazakhstan.

On Monday, Aug. 8, US authorities in New York obtained a warrant to seize an Airbus A319-100 owned by Russian oligarch Andrei Vladimirovich Skoch, a billionaire steel-maker who also serves in the federation’s State Duma.

Since 2018, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has sanctioned Skoch and his business empire, citing the oligarch’s long ties to organized crime and his political support for the invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

It’s not the first asset US officials have targeted. They’ve also moved to seize Skoch’s 324-foot Cayman Islands-flagged luxury yacht Madame Gu and the AS365 Dauphin helicopter it carries. The vessel remains docked at Dubai’s al-Rashid port.

Ukraine invasion

The Madame Gu yacht belonging to Russian businessman Andrei Vladimirovich Skoch is docked at the al-Rashid port in Dubai on June 27, 2022. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Neither Skoch nor officials in Moscow have commented on the oligarch’s latest woes, but in 2018 the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, called the sanctions “yet another blow to the Russian-US relations” designed to “destroy the freedom of enterprise and competition” and wreck the “integration processes in the global economy.”

In the federal court filing, US agents claimed that the airliner was tied to Skoch through a woman described only as his “romantic partner.” But she’s only a pawn in a vast game of shell company transactions designed to help the oligarch circumvent international anti-money laundering sanctions, officials said.

According to the filing, agents connected Skoch to the jet by following the Russian’s money through Skoch’s father, then through a Russian holding company tied to metals and mining, and next to several offshore trusts and fake companies in Aruba, Jersey, Belize, Cyprus, and the Seychelles.

The plane has been grounded in Kazakhstan since March 6, and US officials marked it as contraband on June 2, leading its insurer to rescind coverage.

Read Next: The Surprising Success of Ukraine’s Air Defenses Against Russia’s Missiles

Carl came to Coffee or Die Magazine after stints at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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