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Montevideo, April 12th 2024 - 11:30 UTC



Russian FM's plane went through déjà vu of Emtrasur case

Monday, February 26th 2024 - 10:32 UTC
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Lavrov's Il-96 had enough fuel to reach Casablanca Lavrov's Il-96 had enough fuel to reach Casablanca

According to aviation website reports, last week's G20 foreign ministers' summit in Rio de Janeiro came incredibly close to repeating the case of the Venezuelan-flagged Boeing 747-300 freighter sold by Iran's Mahan Air to Conviasa's cargo subsidiary Emtrasur, which was seized in Buenos Aires for about a year before being handed over to US authorities earlier this month.

US sanctions against Russia, which also directly target officials like Lavrov, could be extended to those who assist the superpower in any way, just as the measures against Iran prompted Argentine fuel suppliers to deny refueling to the Iranian captain of the Emtrasur plane and his mixed Iranian-Venezuelan crew.

In this scenario, the Brazilian company VIBRA, formerly known as BR Distribuidora and once a division of Petrobras, refused to refuel the four-engine IL-96 in Brasilia, where it was scheduled to fly from Rio to a meeting between Lavrov and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from where it would then go non-stop to Casablanca, en route to Russia, bypassing European airspace.

Had VIBRA acceded to the Russians' request, it could have been banned from continuing to sell fuel to American, Delta and United, the US airlines that operate regular passenger flights to Brazil, in addition to cargo carriers.

The fuel-guzzling Russian plane was eventually supported by Jetfly Combustíveis, a company with no business ties to the US, with less than a quarter of its full capacity, barely enough to reach its stopover in Morocco on Friday, while Lavrov traveled from Rio to Brasilia and back on a Brazilian Air Force plane as a compromise solution. The magazine Valor Econômico reported that Lavrov's one-on-one meeting with Lula was on the verge of being canceled.

This episode adds further question marks to Russian President Vladimir Putin's attendance at the G-20 summit in Rio de Janeiro in November, on top of the arrest warrant issued against him by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

It was not Lavrov's first trip to Brazil since these sanctions were imposed, but on the previous occasion he went straight to Brasilia and it was not reported whether the IL-96 had to be refueled.

The episode also came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that additional sanctions would be imposed on Russia following the death in prison of opposition leader Alexander Navalny.

Categories: Politics, Brazil, International.

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