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US Sanctions Compromise Aviation Safety: Russian FM on Raisi’s Fatal Crash

By Vusala Abbasova May 22, 2024

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Lavrov criticized the Western narratives that sanctions target only government behaviors and not citizens, calling such claims “an obvious and outright lie”. / Mikhail Tereshchenko / TASS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted that US sanctions have compromised aviation safety. The minister’s comments come against the backdrop of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s death in a helicopter crash.

In a statement on Tuesday after the meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Russian senior diplomat said that US sanctions hinder nations such as Iran from obtaining necessary spare parts for aircraft and other US-made machinery.

"We are talking about deliberately causing damage to ordinary citizens who use these vehicles, and when spare parts are not supplied, this is directly related to a decrease in the level of safety,” TASS quoted Lavrov as saying.

He further criticized the Western narratives that sanctions target only government behaviors and not citizens, calling such claims “an obvious and outright lie”.

Images from the site appeared to show the US-made Bell 212 helicopter, on which President Raisi was travelling, slamming into a mountain.

The Bell helicopters, bought by Iran before the 1979 Islamic revolution, have become challenging to maintain due to the long-standing sanctions that hinder access to necessary parts and upgrades.

The helicopter crash, which occurred on Monday, claimed the lives of not only President Raisi but also other high-ranking officials, including Iran’s foreign minister.

President Raisi, a 63-year-old ultraconservative cleric, was seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Elected in 2021, President Raisi was known for tightening morality laws, cracking down on anti-government protests, and pushing hard in nuclear negotiations with global powers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin extended his deepest condolences to Supreme Leader Khamenei, describing Raisi as an “outstanding politician” in a message issued on the presidential website on Monday.

“As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighbourly relations between our countries and made great efforts to advance them to the level of strategic partnership,” the message reads. “I have had the privilege of meeting Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi on multiple occasions, and I will always cherish the fond memories of this wonderful man.”

President Putin ordered to send two planes and helicopters with a group of 50 rescuers to assist in the search for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter.

In an emergency meeting, which included top defense and security officials, President Putin emphasized Russia’s solidarity with Iran. The Iranian Ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, reported that during the two-hour discussion, Putin said that Moscow stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Tehran.