The UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said in a new statement that Britain has made it a criminal offense to fly any Russian aircraft in its airspace.
“I have made it a criminal offence for ANY Russian aircraft to enter UK airspace and now HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) can detain these jets,” Shapps said in a Tuesday night tweet. “We will suffocate Putin’s cronies’ ability to continue living as normal while thousands of innocent people die,” he added.
BREAKING: I have made it a criminal offence for ANY Russian aircraft to enter UK airspace and now HMG can detain these jets. We will suffocate Putin's cronies’ ability to continue living as normal while thousands of innocent people die. pic.twitter.com/cYjreNSYRz
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) March 8, 2022
This comes after a ban on all scheduled Russian airline flights, including Aeroflot, from operating in UK airspace or airports, which was imposed on February 25. However, under the new law, any Russian aircraft, even private planes owned or chartered by Russians, is prohibited.
The scope is laid out in the new legal instrument that took effect after the order. It states that if air traffic control or UK airports fear a Russian plane is on its way, they must deny access to the UK. According to a document from the UK Transport Secretary, the new regulation applies to the following:
- an aircraft registered in Russia
- an aircraft owned, operated or chartered by an individual designated in respect of the aviation sanctions under the legislation
- an aircraft owned, operated or chartered by persons connected with Russia
According to the BBC, “a private jet has been impounded at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire as authorities investigate its connection with a billionaire Russian oligarch.”
“The jet flew into the country last Thursday and UK officials believe oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler was on board,“ BBC continues. “They are now investigating whether the plane is permanently leased to Mr. Shvidler and falls under UK sanctions.”
This new wave of sanctions from the UK, targeting those close to the Kremlin, fuels talk of ‘grey area’ sanctions and their effect. While some make the argument that hurting the Kremlin in any capacity is necessary and therefore these PJ bans are warranted, there are equally those who make the argument that broad blanket sanctions towards people who are not directly connected to Putin are irrelevant and unnecessary. Sure, no one is going to bat an eye at a Russian billionaire oil tycoon whose personal private jet is being impounded.
But there are questions as to the methods of the UK’s sanctions. HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) has placed this most recent ban on aircraft in their airspace, which some say is futile in actual impact while making a vow to ‘introduce a ban on Russian oil by the end of the year’. This warrants the curiosity of: why is the UK slower on sanctions than other countries? Are they afraid it may make things worse? Or are they simply letting others take charge?
On Monday, the UK foreign secretary conceded that the UK has been “slower” than the EU and the US in imposing sanctions on Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin, blaming the House of Lords for making relevant laws more “onerous”. So we will have to see if more progress is made, or if this is a case of ‘we will get around to it’, banking on the hope that the conflict ends before that time comes.
This is a developing story as the war wages on. Any new sanctions will be reported on.