Tariffs are biting aviation especially hard these days.
In November Russian budget carrier Avianova said it would remove more than 20 seats out of the cabins of its Airbus A320s as a result of higher costs emerging from new customs regulations for imported aircraft.
Now a United States Congressional report, the New York Times writes, concludes that “two Pentagon middleman companies misled the Russian authorities into thinking that the large quantities of jet fuel they were purchasing were for civilian use, not military, apparently with the intention of evading a tariff…Russia has export restrictions on jet fuel sales to foreign militaries.”
The fuel was indeed used for American military purposes, first sent to a base in Kyrgyzstan and then to Afghanistan. The Pentagon contractors “furnished the Russian authorities with falsified export documents indicating that it would be used only for civil aviation”, the Times reports. This occurred for a “number of years”.
Unlike Avianova’s tariff problems, not to mention aircraft export financing debates, neither side in this matter seemed terribly dismayed when the truth was revealed. Heck, there are even hints the Russians knew the fuel was being for military purposes, but looked away.
Charles Squires, an official for one of the Pentagon contractors, is quoted in the report saying,
“We got one over on ‘em…I’m an old cold warrior, I’m proud of it, we beat the Russians, and we did it for four or five years.”
Perhaps Avianova feels some justice has been granted.