Two Russian nationals pleaded guilty in US federal court on 4 April to a conspiracy involving the export of commercial aircraft parts from the USA to Russia, a violation of US export laws imposed following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) says the Russians conspired to ship to Russian airlines components including carbon disc brake systems for Boeing 737s.

The USA imposed sanctions on exports to Russia immediately after Russia’s invasion in February 2022. The sanctions prohibit exports without licenses and left Russia airlines facing more difficulty in obtaining parts for US-made aircraft.

Smartavia 737-c-Smartavia

Source: Smartavia

The DOJ does not say which Russian airlines the defendants intended to sell US-supplied 737 components

“These defendants smuggled sensitive aircraft technology into Russia following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and did so in violation of laws designed to protect America’s national security,” says US attorney general Merrick Garland.

Defendants Oleg Sergeyevhich Patsulya and Vasilii Sergeyevich Besedin, both Russian nationals living in Miami, began working in May 2022 to obtain orders for aircraft parts from Russian buyers – primarily commercial airlines. The DOJ does not specify those airlines.

The defendants worked to fulfil the orders with parts sourced from US suppliers, including a major supplier in Arizona, the DOJ says.

Court papers identify one supplier as Goodrich, now part of Collins Aerospace. The defendants told the US suppliers that the parts were to be shipped to countries other than Russia, including Turkey.

Patsulya and Besedin pleaded guilty to conspiring to export goods without licenses and Patsulya also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit international money laundering.

The US government prevented “multiple shipments” of brake systems as part of its investigation, says the DOJ, which filed its complaint in US District Court for the District of Arizona.