On March 2, 2023, two Americans were arrested in the city of Kansas, Missouri, in charges of an alleged scheme to transport technology related to aviation to Russian companies. The detainees include 59 years old Cyril Buyanovsky and 55 years old Douglas Robertson.
Matthew Axelrod, the Commerce Department official for the U.S., revealed about the arrests on Thursday, March 2, 2023, at an American Bar Association event in Miami. Buyanovsky and Robertson run and operate a firm, named KanRus Trading Company, which involves repairing and shipping technology and submitting false information for export. These include some fraudulent invoices such as one showing the end destination of a repaired entity to be Germany but holding a sticker for the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Moscow.
In accordance with an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Kansas, the pair is accused of selling avionics to customers that operate aircraft built by Russia, contrary to U.S. law. Axelrod assured about a further investigation of this incident by the U.S. Commerce Department in collaboration with Justice Department prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI.
Buyanovsky and Robertson may be behind bars for up to 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years for conspiracy, forging records, and each count of smuggling controlled goods and exporting without a license, respectively, if convicted. The detainees are subjected to accusations of conspiracy, smuggling goods in violation of U.S. export controls, fabricating export information, and exporting goods unaccompanied by a license.
According to the statement given by the Justice Department, a shipment of western avionics equipment by KanRus Trading Company was detained by the U.S. authorities on February 28, 2022, the same month when the Russian invasion of Ukraine was initiated and air strikes were launched in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, by Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. The Commerce Department of the U.S. warned the men about the requirement of a licence for the export of such equipment. Contrary to this, following months of detention, the electronic equipment was illicitly dispatched by the men via Cyprus and Armenia.
As per the US prosecutors, Cyril Buyanovsky and Douglas Robertson started the firm, KanRus Trading Company, in 2020 and conspired to evade the export laws of the U.S. since then. Avionics includes entities like navigation, communications, threat detection systems, and flight control systems installed in aircraft. By forging the destination, the avionics were shipped indirectly to Moscow, through the routes of other countries, including Germany. The pair also facilitated customers with U.S. equipped planes made in Russia with repair services.
U.S. Sanctions over Russian
Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia last year, the U.S. imposed further restrictions on avionics. Earmarking the defence, maritime, and aerospace sectors of Russia, regulations by the U.S. controlling other goods were strengthened more and later bolstered to cover the luxurious goods and the industrial, commercial, and oil refining sectors of the war-engaged country. The war between Ukraine and Russia in the European continent has resulted in the western allies imposing multiple sanctions and, measures to control the export and restrict arms supply to Russia by any third country. Both countries had faced casualties of both citizens and soldiers, a financial plummet with more than 30 countries imposing sanctions against Russia. On February 24, 2022, Russia initiated a full-scale invasion of Ukraine that has been extended for more than a year.