By David Shepardson
(Reuters) -The U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday confirmed it had identified seven Boeing 737 Planes operated by Belarusian national carrier Belavia that are in apparent violation of U.S. export controls.
The seven Belarusian-operated aircraft are the first to be identified since restrictions on Belarus were tightened last week. The Commerce Department said restrictions that bar them from operating services abroad should effectively ground them from future international flights.
The list of planes subject to restrictions, imposed since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, now includes 146 Russian-owned or operated aircraft and seven Belarusian aircraft
Belavia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The export controls bar companies around the world from providing any refueling, maintenance, repair, or spare parts or services to the identified airplanes.
The Commerce Department actions are part of the Biden administration's response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which the department said Belarus has enabled and supported.
Deputy Commerce Secretary Don Graves said: "By rejecting the international rule of law, Russia and Belarus have made it clear that they do not deserve the benefits of participating in the global economy, and that includes international travel."
Last week, the department stepped up its crackdown against Russian airlines, slapping Aeroflot, Azur Air, and UTair with enforcement actions for violating American export controls.
The enforcement action denies the three Russian carriers export privileges and targets the entire airlines, not just specific planes. The U.S. government believes the actions will over time make the carriers largely unable to continue flights.
Previously, the United States had identified more than 170 Boeing planes that Russian airlines were operating in violation of U.S. sanctions, including about 40 Aeroflot Boeing 737 and 777 planes, 21 Azur Boeing planes and 17 UTair Boeing aircraft. It has removed some that have left Russia.
The United States, European Union and other countries have barred Russian planes from U.S. airspace.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Holmes)