The EU Just Carved Up New Russia Sanctions so Airbus Can Continue to Skirt Them

AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

Just yesterday in these pages, I wrote the latest of a handful of recent columns wherein I’ve wailed on companies who are either not taking Western sanctions against Russia seriously enough or are skirting them altogether. This nonsense is seriously impeding a critical element in the effort to shut down Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine—inflicting maximum domestic pain on his economy—and it is seriously infuriating that some are still getting away with it. Once again, I pointed squarely at the French aerospace giant and U.S. defense contract-enjoying Airbus as perhaps the worst offender of all for stubbornly refusing to stop doing business with the regime.

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I have a burr in my saddle when it comes to Airbus that has been growing more uncomfortable over their continuing failure to cease doing business with the Russian regime at this time when Western unity on sanctions is so essential to the survival of Ukraine. I also find the amount of U.S. taxpayer dollars they haul in whilst remaining stubborn on the matter to be appalling. So, yes, in case you were wondering: I have it in for them.

So you can imagine the amount of coffee I spit on my poor MacBook screen shortly after I filed yesterday’s column when I came across this intrepid report from The Wall Street Journal. The minute I saw the headline, “Russian Titanium Maker Is Pulled Off Sanctions List,” I knew what it was about. And the article confirmed it. The European Union, clearly doing Airbus’s bidding, had in a last-minute maneuver yanked Airbus’s key business partner in Russia, a titanium supplier, out of a pending new sanctions package that had otherwise passed.

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From the Journal report: “The European Union blocked a proposal to sanction Russian metals company VSMPO-Avisma PJSC at the last minute, EU diplomats said, after France and other member states objected to the move…Airbus “buys about 65% of its titanium from VSMPO, according to a May report from consulting firm AlixPartners.”

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What’s even more obnoxious, Airbus isn’t even keeping its hostility toward sanctions on the down low. Case in point, from a Bloomberg report back April: “Airbus SE defended its decision to keep importing Russian titanium, contending sanctions would hurt aerospace manufacturers who depend on the lightweight metal and wouldn’t deter Vladimir Putin after his invasion of Ukraine.” The report cited that Airbus is a major customer of Russia’s VSMPO-AVISMA Corp. and refuses to stop—or even pause—importing titanium from the company.

The weak “woe is us” argument has been whipped out regularly by Airbus in regards to the Russian titanium ban conversation, as I always enjoy reminding readers. Business Insider quoted a company spokesman in April as saying that “(Sanctions) would massively damage the entire aerospace industry across Europe.” This might actually sound like a serious concern, had Reuters not reported a full month earlier that fellow aerospace giant Boeing had suspended business with Russia, singling out titanium. Nearly 5 months since pulling the plug, neither Boeing nor the “entire aerospace industry across Europe” seems to be suffering anything even resembling “massive damage.”

Titanium accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in exports for Russia. Granted, it is not a huge percentage as Russian metal exports gobut including it in the new round of sanctions still would have hit Russia where it hurts, and symbolically at the very least helped the Western cause. 

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Our supposed “people” are screwing around. And unless a stop is put to that and the wayward among us face real consequences for what amounts to letting the Russian regime continue on with their atrocities, the West cannot win in Ukraine. 

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