Moscow intends imposing new security rules for air freight and mail flown from EU countries into Russia. The proposed measure is a direct response to the ACC3 validation program introduced by the EU for securing shipments coming from third country airports and flown into one of the EU member states or transited there.
To act in accordance with the EU ACC3 regulation the countries concerned have to accept on-the-spot inspections by Brussels sent security watchdogs. This accounts for all states that don’t stand
on a green list set up by Brussels. What bothers Moscow is that Russia’s name is missing in the paper. An unjustified omission, as the Transport Ministry told their counterparts in Brussels, and
demanded rectification of this fault. “Our international airports fully comply with the security regime demanded by Brussels for handling air freight,” a speaker stated. Hence, it’s anything but
a big surprise that in Moscow the feeling of being humiliated is spreading with their country being put in the same pot with Yemen, Kirgizstan, Pakistan or Mali in which air freight is anything
In Brussels, however, the Russian cause is seen slightly different. There the administration in charge for ACC3 implementation acts according to the principle that control is better than belief. Hence, the EU is unwilling to add Russian airports to the green security list as safe ACC3 havens for air freight operations and handling processes as long as they deny validators to the possibility to check the processes on the spot.
The conflict escalates
It didn’t take Moscow’s Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviatsia long to announce their tit-for-tat retaliation. The countermeasures will be quite similar to those introduced on 1 July by the EU, threatening Russian airlines to transport goods into one of the EU member states. Rosaviatsia reminded in a note to Brussels that carriers like Aeroflot, UTair, Transaero Airlines and the members of the Volga-Dnepr Group audited themselves according to Russia’s tough air freight security laws that fully match the relevant EU regulations. This gives them the right to carry cargo to any of the EU countries without any further validation.
From the notes that had been exchanged in this specific matter it can be assumed that Moscow considers the ACC3 case as direct interference with its competency and autonomy. Or how else should the country’s fierce opposition to the validation scheme be explicable? Obviously, the Russian authorities fear that EU watchdogs inspecting local airports would get deep insights into the security processes and obtain detailed information on the ground infrastructure, communication systems and the qualification of personnel.
Although nobody at Rosaviatsia or the Transport Ministry has ever voiced alike allegations, at least not in public, it appears that the Russian government considers the EU demanded inspections as spy-like activities exercised by a foreign power but camouflaged as friendly assistance for mutually enhancing air freight security processes.
A ray of hope?
However, there is still a chance the conflict might de-escalate with things ultimately turning to the better. In a note to their European colleagues Rosaviatsia asked for softening the requirements to make it easier for both sides to reach an agreement. “Currently, we are engaged in negotiations,” Moscow’s aviation authority declared.
See also "Russia Opposes EU Demanded Cargo Validation"