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We’re all going backwards.

With the March 14 signing by Russian President Vladimir Putin allowing Russian carriers to keep foreign aircraft for use on domestic flights, that nationalization amounts to theft of nearly 500 commercial aircraft that their operators did not own prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Related: The western airliner fleet inside Russia: An interactive data visualization

Russia’s transport minister, Vitaly Savelyev, said that the country is trying to find ways of legally circumventing the sanctions to hold on to its fleet, reportedly saying, “We are not losing hope, but we are not giving them back, because that would mean to leave oneself without aviation.”

The most far-reaching sanctions of the modern economic era have disconnected Russia and its civil aviation industry from much of the world. Its digital connection is severed, along with its access to parts, services, international markets and crucial airspace. What will come of the fleet that operates today inside of Russia? 

Related: Disconnecting Russia from aviation’s world order came gradually – then all at once

While some have predicted the collapse of the Russian civil aviation system within a matter of weeks without western infrastructure and components, such an accelerated time frame is unlikely. Yet, the fleet will begin to deteriorate — and along with it the safety of Russian operations.

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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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