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Russia Investigating Disappearance of More than 50 Aircrafts Amid Allegations of Transfer to “Unfriendly Countries”, Including Ukraine

The disappearance of numerous Russian aircraft has sparked investigations, with some reportedly ending up in the possession of Ukrainian forces engaged in combat against Moscow’s troops. 

Russian authorities are scrutinizing the actions of the Federal Air Transport Agency amid allegations of illicit transfers to “unfriendly countries,” heightening tensions surrounding the ongoing conflict.

Russian Authorities Investigate

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Russian media reports indicate that the country’s domestic security service, the FSB, is probing allegations against Moscow’s Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsiya, regarding the unauthorized transfer of 59 planes and helicopters to foreign jurisdictions.

Aircraft Used by Ukraine

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Several of the missing aircraft, including Mi-8 helicopters and an Il-76 strategic airlifter, were allegedly utilized by Ukrainian forces in military operations against Russian troops, according to sources cited by Russian newspaper Izvestia.

Auditing Reveals Inconsistencies

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An audit conducted by the Ministry of Transport in July 2023 uncovered irregularities in Rosaviatsiya’s records, prompting criminal investigations into the suspected removal of aircraft from the civil aviation register without proper documentation.

Two Cases Being Investigated

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“The Federal Security Service opened two criminal cases — negligence and abuse of power — against several employees of the Federal Air Transport Agency,” according to state-backed Russian newspaper, Izvestia.

Illegal Transfers

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Following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago, the employees are “suspected of illegally removing 59 planes and helicopters from Russian jurisdiction,” according to the newspaper.

Contradictory and Unreliable Information

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Employees of the Federal Air Transport Agency “removed” aircraft from a register of civil assets “without complete sets of documents, provided contradictory and unreliable information about the location of aircraft outside Russia,” the newspaper said, citing a Ministry of Transport spokesperson.

Role of the Federal Air Transport Agency

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Rosaviatsiya, responsible for overseeing Russia’s civil aviation sector and airspace control, faces scrutiny over its handling of aircraft ownership rights and transactions, as outlined by the Russian government.

Usage of Mi-8 Helicopters

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The Mi-8 helicopter, extensively employed by Russia in various operations, serves diverse military functions, including troop transport and reconnaissance. 

Ukrainian claims of downing Russian Mi-8s using U.S.-supplied HIMARS systems have added to tensions.

Instances of Aircraft Incidents

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Reports of aircraft incidents, including crashes in Russia’s Karelia region and Kyrgyzstan, underscore the challenges and risks associated with aerial operations amid ongoing geopolitical conflicts.

Ukraine’s Role

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Throughout the nearly two years of the conflict, Kiev has claimed multiple times that it has shot down Russian Mi-8 helicopters, even employing High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems—or HIMARS—supplied by the United States.

MI-8 Pilot Landed in Ukraine

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In August 2023, Ukraine also reported that it had successfully persuaded a Russian Mi-8 pilot to land on territory under its control before seizing the helicopter.

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