VDL humiliated as Russian oligarchs DEFY Brussels crackdown and fly over EU in jets

Putin 'ticked off' at oligarchs says ex-KGB undercover agent

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Russian oligarchs are still flying with their private jets in the European Union’s airspace despite the Commission’s sanctions against Moscow over the war in Ukraine. The EU has prohibited all Russian-owned, -registered, or -controlled aircraft, including private and charter flights, from landing in, taking off from, or transiting any EU nation.

It also imposed sanctions on Russia after it invaded Ukraine on February 24, but since then at least 30 flights allegedly belonging to Russian oligarchs have gone over the territory of Europe.

The news, broken by German daily Welt am Sonntag, humiliated Ursula von der Leyen’s attempts to show force against President Vladimir Putin.

Three days after the start of the war, the EU Commission chief said: “These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off, or overfly the territory of the EU.”

The German newspaper has tracked 30 private jets and helicopters owned by Russian businessmen using data publicly available via flight tracking websites.

One of the aircrafts was eventually seized by the UK authorities in London after flying across the EU eight times since the start of the war.

The helicopter of Russian businessman Alexander Zanadvorov also flew across France eight times in the same period.

It comes as last month four EU member states called for frozen Russian assets to be used to help rebuild Ukraine.

A joint letter written by Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia and Estonia to EU finance ministers called for assets seized by the European Union to fund the rebuilding of the country once the war is finished. On May 3, Ukraine estimated that $600billion (£477.3billion) would be needed to rebuild the country devastated by the war.

On May 3, Ukraine estimated that $600billion (£477.3billion) would be needed to rebuild the country devastated by the war.

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However, with the war still ongoing this figure is likely to rise further, possibly substantially so.

In the letter the authors argue that Russia must cover a “substantial” amount of the cost of rebuilding Ukraine.

They said: “A substantial part of costs of rebuilding Ukraine, including compensation for victims of the Russian military aggression, must be covered by Russia.

“Ultimately, if Russia does not stop the military aggression against Ukraine, there should be no economic ties remaining between EU and Russia at all – ensuring that none of our financial resources, products or services contributes to Russia’s war machine.

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“We must now identify legal ways to maximise the use of these resources as a source of funding – for both the costs of Ukraine’s continued efforts to withstand the Russian aggression, and for the post-war reconstruction of the country.

“Confiscation of state assets, such as central bank reserves or property of state-owned enterprises, has a direct link and effect in this regard.

“In cases where legal ways to confiscate the assets will not be identified, it should be used as leverage and released only once Russia compensates Ukraine for all the damages done.”

The letter also calls for a new round of economic sanctions against Moscow.

In the letter the four countries note that the EU and its allies have already frozen assets belonging to Russian individuals and entities as well as $300billion (£238.6billion) of central bank reserves.

Since the start of the invasion in February the EU has frozen €30billion (£25.5billion) worth of assets of Russian and Belarussian oligarchs and entities.

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