July 15, 2024

The Russian I-Fly Airline reportedly operates flights for the Russian Defense Ministry and has transported conscripted soldiers to Rostov-on-Don for deployment in Ukraine, the National Resistance Center said on Nov. 12.

The private airline company has been flying mobilized personnel from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk to Rostov-on-Don in southwestern Russia, the report said. The troops are then reportedly sent to fight in Ukraine.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s Western partners like the EU, the U.S., the U.K., and Canada imposed sanctions on Russia’s aviation industry, including a ban on Russian airliners to use Western airspaces or restrictions on aviation technology exports.

This has sparked a major crisis in Russia’s civil aviation sector, bringing about financial loss and the degradation of the air fleet due to a lack of spare parts and poor maintenance.

Burdened with financial difficulties, airline owners close to the Russian government accept orders from the Russian Defense Ministry to make a profit through state subsidies, the National Resistance Center said.

I-Fly’s owner is Alexander Burtin, who is also a co-founder and co-owner of the Russian travel company Tez Tour.

In March, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) charged Alexander Neradko, head of Rosaviatsia (Federal Air Transport Agency), for helping the Russian military to deploy troops near the border with Ukraine and in occupied Crimea.

Read also: Russia files complaint to UN aviation organization over sanctions

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