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Grounded Russian Cargo Plane at the Centre of Legal Dispute in Canada

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Grounded Russian Cargo Plane at the Centre of Legal Dispute in Canada

A legal saga is unfolding in Toronto, Canada, where a colossal Antonov An-124 cargo plane, operated by Russian airline Volga-Dnepr, remains grounded due to sanctions imposed amid geopolitical tensions involving Russia. The aircraft, one of merely 26 of its kind globally, has been immobilized since February 2022, when Canada closed its airspace to Russian planes.

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The Lawsuit

In response, Volga-Dnepr Airlines has taken legal action against the Canadian government, seeking a federal court to declare the sanctions against them invalid. The lawsuit contends that the airline was erroneously placed on the sanction list as it was not involved in Russia's invasion of Ukraine and had not provided aviation services to the Russian paramilitary organization, Wagner Group.

Caught in the Crossfire

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The aircraft, which was initially delivering personal protective equipment from China, has been stranded on the tarmac at Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) since the airspace closure. The sanctions have significantly restricted the use of Antonov An-124 planes, with only six currently operating in the West.

The Fate of the Plane

The outcome of the lawsuit could potentially determine the fate of the aircraft which is facing considerable deterioration due to exposure to harsh Canadian winter weather conditions and a lack of maintenance. The Canadian government's decision to seize the plane was ostensibly aimed at exerting additional pressure on Russia over its actions in Ukraine. However, Volga-Dnepr insists it has no involvement in the conflict or any connection with the Wagner Group.

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