Canada seizes Russian cargo plane parked at Pearson Airport

The Canadian government has seized a Russian-registered cargo plane that has been grounded at Toronto Pearson Airport since the war in Ukraine began.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says the Antonov 124 is owned by two entities which Canada recently imposed sanctions against for what it called “their complicity in President Putin’s war of choice.”

The seizure was made possible by the new asset seizure and forfeiture authorities under Canada’s autonomous sanctions regimes put forward in Budget 2022 and is in direct response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022.

“The seizure of this important asset is the first step of the Government of Canada’s action under the asset seizure and forfeiture regime and is designed to put additional pressure on Russia to stop its illegal war against Ukraine by straining its economic system and limiting resources that fuel the war,” read a statement from Global Affairs Canada.

The government says the aircraft will be managed in accordance with federal legislation, adding it will work with the Ukrainian government to determine how to redistribute this asset to compensate victims of human rights abuses or help rebuild the country.

Visible from Highway 427, the white-and-blue Antonov airplane hasn’t moved from where it has been parked since Feb. 27, 2022. It arrived in Canada to deliver a shipment of COVID-19 rapid tests.

Hours after that arrival, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced Canada was closing its airspace to all Russian aircraft in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The plane has racked up more than $500,000 in parking fees since being grounded at the airport.

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