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WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is sanctioning firms involved in the production or ongoing transfer to Russia of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which Russia has used in devastating attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. OFAC is designating Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center, the firm responsible for the design and production of Shahed-series UAVs being used by Russian forces in Ukraine. OFAC is also targeting Success Aviation Services FZC and i Jet Global DMCC for facilitating the transfer of Iranian UAVs to Russia. The U.S. Department of State is concurrently designating Russian Private Military Company “Wagner” (PMC Wagner) and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force (IRGC ASF) and Qods Aviation Industries pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14024. To supplement the U.S. Department of State’s designation of PMC Wagner, OFAC is also designating two individuals for facilitating PMC Wagner’s acquisition of UAVs from Iran, Abbas Djuma and Tigran Khristoforovich Srabionov.
“As we have demonstrated repeatedly, the United States is determined to sanction people and companies, no matter where they are located, that support Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Today’s action exposes and holds accountable companies and individuals that have enabled Russia’s use of Iranian-built UAVs to brutalize Ukrainian civilians,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “This is part of our larger effort to disrupt Russia’s war effort and deny the equipment it needs through sanctions and export controls.”
Today’s action is being taken pursuant to E.O. 13382 and E.O. 14024 and follows OFAC’s September 8, 2022 designation of an Iranian air transportation service provider involved in the shipment of Iranian UAVs to Russia, as well as three companies and one individual involved in the research, development, production, and procurement of Iranian UAVs and UAV components for Iran’s IRGC and its Aerospace Force (IRGC ASF) and Navy. This also follows the October 20, 2022 decision by the European Union to impose sanctions on three Iranian military leaders and Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center for their role in the development and delivery of UAVs used by Russia in its war against Ukraine.
Today’s actions implement commitments to target international actors involved in supporting Russia’s war machine, as highlighted by OFAC Frequently Asked Questions 1091 and 1092 and reinforced by an October 14, 2022 meeting of senior officials in Washington representing ministries of finance and other government agencies from 33 countries, in which the participants acknowledged the significance of sanctions actions taken so far and discussed additional steps to further impair Russia’s military-industrial complex and critical defense supply chains. The Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, and State released an alert on that same day detailing the impact of international sanctions and export controls to date. Read the joint alert here.
IRANIAN UAV PRODUCER
Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center (SAIRC), subordinate to the IRGC ASF, has designed and manufactured several Shahed-series UAV variants, including the Shahed-136 one-way attack UAV that Russian forces have used in recent attacks targeting civilian infrastructure in Kyiv, Odesa, and the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. SAIRC also developed the Shahed-129 medium-altitude reconnaissance and strike UAV for the IRGC ASF, and it is the lead contractor for the IRGC ASF’s Shahed-171 project.
SAIRC is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 for having provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological or other support for, or goods or services in support of, the IRGC ASF. The IRGC ASF, also known as the IRGC Air Force, was designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 on June 16, 2010 as a key element in the operational deployment of Iran’s ballistic missile capability.
SHIPMENT OF IRANIAN UAVS TO RUSSIA
UAE-based air transportation firms Success Aviation Services FZC (Success Aviation) and i Jet Global DMCC (iJet) collaborated with U.S.-sanctioned Iranian firm Safiran Airport Services (Safiran) to coordinate flights between Iran and Russia, including those associated with transporting Iranian UAVs, personnel, and related equipment from Iran to Russia. The actions against the UAE-based targets are being taken in cooperation with the UAE government.
Success Aviation continues to cooperate with Safiran even after the latter’s designation, including to facilitate travel between Russia and Iran. iJet also continues to work with Safiran to coordinate Russian Air Force flights between Iran and Russia despite Safiran’s designation and exposure.
Safiran was designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 on September 8, 2022 for being owned or controlled by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of the Russian Federation (GoR).
iJet has also worked with U.S.-sanctioned, Syria-based Cham Wings Airlines (Cham Wings). iJet has allegedly used its branch in Syria, known as Trade Med Middle East, to assist Cham Wings in facilitating the transport of Syrian fighters to Russia. Cham Wings was designated pursuant to E.O. 13582 on December 23, 2016 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the Government of Syria and Syrian Arab Airlines, a U.S.-designated airline that Iran’s IRGC-Qods Force has used to transfer illicit cargo to Syria.
Success Aviation and iJet are being designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the GoR.
PMC WAGNER FACILITATORS
PMC Wagner is a Russian private military company with ties to the Russian government that has been used to engage in conflicts on the Russian government’s behalf around the world. PMC Wagner was previously designated pursuant to E.O. 13660 in 2017 for being responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine. The European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Japan have also sanctioned PMC Wagner.
The State Department today is concurrently designating PMC Wagner pursuant to E.O. 14024 for operating or having operated in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy. In coordination with the State Department’s redesignation of PMC Wagner, OFAC is taking action against individuals facilitating the movement of Iranian UAVs to Russia. Abbas Djuma (Djuma) and Tigran Khristoforovich Srabionov (Srabionov) were involved in PMC Wagner’s acquisition of Iranian UAVs to support combat operations in Ukraine.
Djuma is being designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods and services to or in support of, PMC Wagner. Srabionov is being designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, PMC Wagner.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC sanctions generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals or entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the individuals or entities designated today pursuant to E.O. 13382 could be subject to U.S. sanctions.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List) but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behavior.