$45,000,000 Russian Airplane Ordered To Be Seized In Texas


The U.S. seizure of an aircraft in the possession of the Russian energy company Lukoil was recently authorized by a Texas federal court.

The warrant was issued in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and it covers a plane worth some $45 million, according to available info. Among the numerous economic restrictions placed on Russian interests in the aftermath of the country’s late February invasion of Ukraine were new limits on the transfer of U.S.-manufactured aircraft — like the Lukoil plane that’s covered by the recently issued warrant. The targeted plane is a Boeing 737-7EM, and restrictions on U.S.-manufactured aircraft evidently even cover transferring the planes within Russia rather than simply moving them into or out of the country. Some form of approval from U.S. authorities is required under the rules issued after the Ukraine invasion before the “export, reexport or in-country transfer of, among other things, U.S.-manufactured aircraft to or within Russia,” as the Justice Department explains.

As summarized in the recent press release from the Justice Department, the Boeing aircraft was flown into and out of Russia in recent months in violation of the U.S. restrictions. The last time the plane is known to have been in the U.S. is early 2019. A U.S. government task force operating under the moniker KleptoCapture is coordinating the seizure effort, according to publicly available details. That task force “will continue to leverage all the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression,” the department said. Throughout the war between Russia and Ukraine, governmental authorities around the world have repeatedly gone after high-dollar assets connected to wealthy Russians, with an eye towards cutting off the flow of funds in Putin’s circles. The U.S. oversaw the seizure of a $90 million yacht tied to sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg in the apparent first yacht seizure by the U.S. during the war.

Recently, Ukrainian troops secured major advances amid renewed counteroffensive operations in the southern and eastern portions of the country. In what Russian leadership described as a pre-planned, strategic move but was something they actually carried out under pressure from advancing Ukrainian troops, Putin’s forces recently departed Izium, a strategically key city in the Kharkiv region. Russian troops were using the city for launching attacks into the Donetsk region situated south of the liberated city, and losing the area substantially dismantles the front lines of the Russian assault from the north on Donetsk, per one military analyst speaking to The Washington Post. Ukrainian troops recently made it to the outskirts of Lysychansk, which was the last major jurisdiction in the Luhansk region that fell to Russian troops, providing relatively comprehensive control of Luhansk to the Russians.