An aircraft suspected of being used by the oligarch Roman Abravomicagainst whom sanctions have been imposed, was today at Israel.
However, the Israeli Foreign Minister stated that the country is not a refuge for Russian businessmen who are subject to international “freezing” of assets due to the invasion of Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Jair Lapid said the country’s financial, banking and aviation authorities were coordinating on the issue.
“Israel will not be a route to circumvent sanctions imposed on Russia and other Western countries,” Lapid said in a statement during a visit to Slovakia.
A person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that aircraft used by Russian billionaire Abramovich flew to Tel Aviv airport, Ben Gurion yesterday, confirming reports in the Israeli media.
There was no mention of the jet in the Foreign Ministry announcement. A ministry spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters could not confirm from an independent source whether Abramovich, who has Israeli and Portuguese citizenship, did so. The plane was expected to depart from Israel later today, according to the source.
The arrival of the aircraft was an indication of the fine line on which Israel stands in terms of its relations with Russia.
The billionaire, owner of the British football team Chelsea, is among the seven oligarchs who were added to the British sanctions list on Thursday in an attempt to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich has denied having any close ties to Putin.
A British Ministry of Transportation source said on Friday that Britain was looking for helicopters and jets belonging to oligarchs who had been sanctioned.
Request for sanctions
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 network on Friday, US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said Washington was asking Israel to adopt financial and export sanctions against Russia.
Lapid did not immediately say whether Israel was considering its own sanctions. But he said the Foreign Ministry was “coordinating this issue with partners, including the Bank of Israel, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, the Airports Authority, the Ministry of Energy, and others.”
Any Israeli sanctions could complicate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to mediate in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. He had talks with Putin in Moscow on March 5 and has spoken several times by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“There is no excuse for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and there is no excuse in any case for attacks on civilians,” said Lapid, who was one of the cabinet members who openly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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