At the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, a court in Ukraine has seized two An-148-100 aircraft belonging to an undisclosed Russian joint-stock company, after that company allegedly used a Cypriot offshore entity to circumvent sanctions.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said on its Telegram channel on January 23 that “personal special economic and other sanctions were applied to the company in question” according to directives made by Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council. The cost of the planes is about EUR10 million euros (USD10.85 million), it added.

According to an investigation the prosecutor’s office had conducted, in 2021 the sanctioned firm used the Cypriot offshore company to enter into a lease agreement with a Ukrainian company for the two Antonov regional jets. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year, the lease contracts were terminated.

However, the Antonov Design Bureau twinjets were about to be exported from the territory of Ukraine and delivered to Russia, according to the statement.

“Under the procedural guidance of the Prosecutor General’s Office, a pre-trial investigation for criminal proceedings on aiding and abetting the aggressor state and collaborative activities continues and is being carried out by the Main Investigative Department of the Security Service of Ukraine,” the statement concluded.

According to Ukraine’s Centre for Transport Strategies, before the war the two An-148s were operated by Air Ocean Airlines (AOA, Kyiv Igor Sikorsky), which in order to obtain an operator’s certificate (AOC) and start flights in 2021 had to register at least two aircraft in Ukraine. It took delivery of them in October 2021 from Russia’s Angara Airlines (AGU, Irkutsk International), via the lessor Ilyushin Finance, and UR-CTC (msn 27015041011) and UR-CTF (msn 27015042014) were registered in Ukraine that month (in Russia they had been RA-61711 and RA-61714).

However, Air Ocean experienced problems maintaining the airworthiness of the aircraft against a backdrop of worsening relations between Ukraine and Russia, leading to prolonged downtime. According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the two jets are currently the only aircraft in the Air Ocean Airlines fleet.