Airbus allowed to use banned Russian titanium

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The Canadian government has allowed Airbus to use Russian-produced titanium in its manufacturing processes despite being the first Western state to sanction the strategic metal.

Ottawa banned supplies from Russian manufacturing giant VSMPO-AVISMA – the world’s largest producer of processed titanium – in a sanctions package against Moscow unveiled in February. The metal is important to the aerospace industry and is prized for its strength relative to its weight.

“Airbus is aware of the Canadian government imposing sanctions on VSMPO and has obtained the necessary authorization to secure Airbus operations in compliance with the applicable sanctions,” Airbus Canada told Reuters on Tuesday, without elaborating on the timeline.

While the EU has extensively sanctioned Moscow following the escalation of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, it has held off on blacklisting VSMPO-AVISMA. The exemption from the Canadian government is designed to give Airbus leeway in importing jets produced in the EU and built with Russian titanium, Reuters said.

Airbus announced it was “decoupling” from Russian titanium in 2022. “It will be a matter of months not years,” Airbus Defense and Space CEO Michael Schoellhorn said in December of that year.

Rival aviation giant Boeing also claimed to have stopped purchasing supplies of the strategic metal from Russia in 2022. However, major suppliers for the US company – such as the Safran group and Rolls-Royce – have continued purchasing titanium from VSMPO-AVISMA, the Washington Post reported last month, saying it illustrated how the West remains dependent on Russia for the metal.

Only Canada and Ukraine have sanctioned the Russian titanium giant, while Ukraine’s biggest sponsor, the US, placed export controls on the corporation in September. The limitations prohibit American exports to the company but allow its titanium into the US.

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