Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan has instructed Ukraine’s State Aviation Service to verify whether the Syrian aviation company Cham Wings transported Russian mercenaries between Damascus and Rostov-on-Don. According to the ministry’s press service, Reuters had reported on such facts earlier.
“Over 14 months since January 5, 2017, the aviation company made 51 flights from Damascus and Latakia to Rostov and back. Each time this was done using an Airbus A320, which can carry up to 180 passengers,” the ministry reported, citing Reuters.
Reuters also reported that Cham Wings has been under US sanctions since 2016. The company was accused of transporting militant allies of President Bashar al-Assad to Syria, as well as weapons and equipment for Syrian intelligence.
The Airbus planes previously belonged to European and American aviation companies, but later they ended up in the fleets of Middle Eastern companies through a network of intermediaries and offshore companies. Notably, the companies Khors Air and Dart, which are registered in Ukraine, were able to purchase or rent 84 used Airbus and Boeing planes. Of these 84 planes, at least 40 ended up in Iraq, Iran and Syria.
“If the information is confirmed when the State Aviation Service completes its check, the Ministry of Infrastructure will advise the government and the NSDC to place said companies and their owners on the sanction list. Their certificates will be revoked,” Omelyan emphasized.
The Ukrainian company Khors Air and the former marine Major Sergei Tomchani ended up on the US Department of Commerce’s blacklist in 2011. The businessman was accused of assisting the exportation of planes to Iran and Syria without acquiring the necessary licenses in the US.
According to Reuters, Vladimir Suchkov became one of the new co-owners of Khors Air with a 25% share. Suchkov provided an address in Kyiv on the registration form – 33 Elektrikov Street. Military unit No. A0515, which is part of the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry (HUR MOU), is located at this address.
Consultant and former Khors Air owner Sergei Tomchani denies Suchkov’s connection to the HUR MOU. The department also said that it does not know anything about Suchkov – he does not work there.
Reuters did not note any other connections between the trading of aircraft and the Ukrainian intelligence department.