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Canada seized a massive Russian cargo jet after last year’s invasion. Ukraine says it’s going to repossess it.

massive cargo jet behind fence, small looking police car on street in front of itVolga Dnepr Airlines Antonov An-124, one of the largest production cargo planes in the world was grounded at Pearson International Airport in late February after Russia invaded Ukraine in Mississauga. May 24, 2022.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

  • A Ukrainian official said his country is preparing to confiscate a Russian cargo jet seized last year by Canada.
  • The An-124 first flew in 1982 and is capable of transporting more than 330,000 pounds.
  • The plane was seized after Canada prohibited Russian aircraft from its skies following the invasion.

Canada is preparing to hand over a massive Russian cargo jet to Ukraine that it seized in the days after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to a top Ukrainian official.

In a post on Facebook, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that his country was “preparing to confiscate the An-124 aircraft and other assets of he aggressor in Canada and transfer them to Ukraine.” Shmyhal visited Canada last week and met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who announced a new military aid package consisting of more than 21,000 assault rifles and 2.4 million rounds of ammunition.

James Emmanuel Wanki, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, the country’s department of foreign relations, told Insider that he could not comment on “potential asset seizures.” However, he noted that Canada earlier this month added the plane’s owner, Volga-Dnepr Group, to its list of sanctioned Russian entities — and that Canadian law allows for “the seizure, forfeiture, disposal, and redistribution of assets belonging to [sanctioned] individuals and entities.”

Canada grounded the Volga-Dnepr Group An-124 last year after it landed in Toronto just three days after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, citing a prohibition on Russian aircraft in Canadian airspace. Since February 2022, it has racked up more than $330,000 in fees for parking at the city’s international airport, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In March, a judge in Kyiv, ruling on a lawsuit brought by the plane’s manufacturer, ordered that the An-124 in Toronto and two others owned by Volga-Dpner Group be prohibited from flying and handed over to Ukraine, stating that the company had failed to obtain legitimate safety certifications for the aircraft, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

A spokesperson for Volga-Dnepr Group, based in Ulyanovsky, Russia, specializing in the transport of heavyweight air cargo, did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

First flown in 1982, the four-engine An-124 Ruslan was used as a military transport plane by the Soviet Union — at the time it was the world’s largest cargo jet, capable of transporting more than 330,000 pounds — before it shifted to carrying commercial goods. It is just over 223 feet long with a wingspan of more than 240 feet, according to its Ukrainian manufacturer, the state-owned Antonov, which made 55 of the planes by the time production ended in 2014.

At the start of the 2022 invasion, Russia destroyed an even larger cargo jet, the An-225 Mirya, that was based on the An-124 — the only one in existence and a source of national pride for Ukraine. Antonov announced last November that it intends to build another.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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