Ukraine's Antonov Design Bureau (ADB, Gostomel) will sever all cooperation initiatives with Russia's Volga-Dnepr Group the manufacturer's Group president, Alexander Kotsuba, has said.

In 2006, the two sides established the Ruslan International Ltd joint venture aimed at marketing the An-124 fleets of both Antonov Airlines (ADB, Gostomel) and Volga-Dnepr Airlines (VI, Ulyanovsk Vostochny). However, the initiative will be dissolved from January 1, 2017 onwards after Ukraine announced its withdrawal from the Ukraine-Russia-NATO Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS), a major Ruslan customer.

"We are now at the stage of divorce," Kotsuba was quoted by the Delo news wire. "By the end of the year the joint ventures, currently in effect between Volga-Dnepr and Antonov, will cease following which we will operate independently in the market."

In addition to dissolving its relationship with Volga-Dnepr, Antonov has also pushed to restrict all Russian An-124 operations to the domestic Russian market. The move is in retaliation against the Russian Air Force and Volga-Dnepr's efforts to use an existing Ilyushin Design Bureau (Zhukovsky) facility to carry out MRO services on locally-based An-124s.

As the type's designer and certificate holder, Antonov says the move is illegal as only it can sign off on any technical documents and inspection certificates.

As a state-owned company, Antonov is obligated to follow Ukraine's lead on geopolitical dealings with neighbour, Russia with which it has fraught relations.