The Interior Ministry in Madrid has revealed that Russian and Ukrainian nationals accused of weapons trafficking to Moscow have been seized by Spanish National Police in a joint operation with Spanish Customs officers.
The two suspects were said to be sending aircraft parts to the Russian Federation that are banned under sanctions in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
International embargoes prevent the sale of weapons or spare parts that could help the Russian military.
But the police in the province of Guipuzcoa, in northern Spain, arrested the pair – a man and a woman – as they were about to send a shipment of glass used in military plane cockpits.
The police said one of the pair is the head of a sanctions-busting organisation dedicated to trafficking military equipment to the Kremlin.
Footage of one arrest shows a woman being led away in handcuffs by masked Spanish police officers and put inside a patrol car.
A statement obtained from Spain’s Ministry of the Interior by Newsflash on Tuesday, 4th April, said: “One of the detainees is said to be the head of an international business network directed from Spain and dedicated to the illicit trafficking of defence material.”
They added: “Two people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a crime of smuggling defence material destined for Russia.”
The pair, it emerged, ran a front company supplying aeronautical spares to legitimate clients to hide their dealings with Russia.
Interior Ministry officials say the pair had been under investigation since 2021, months ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
An EU arms embargo against Russia has been in place since 2014, following the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea.
They accused the suspects of “running a supply chain of military aeronautical material from a Spanish company, evading the controls established by current legislation in that material and, therefore, committing a crime of smuggling.”
Their statement continued: “In the current scenario of war in Ukraine, the supply chains of the Russian military industry have been seriously damaged by the application of Council Regulation (EU) 833/2014, regarding restrictive measures motivated by Russian actions that destabilise the situation in Ukraine and its subsequent reinforcement as a result of the Russian invasion of February 2022.
“The framework on which intervention has been made was designed for the supply of military equipment in the aeronautical sector. The operation was triggered in an attempt to prevent the imminent departure from European territory of a shipment of glass for military aircraft cockpits.”
The National Police said they had searched two houses as part of their raid and seized two high-end vehicles.
The suspects, who have not been named, have been remanded in custody pending the outcome of the investigation.