An Irish aircraft leasing company could play a huge role in destabilizing the Russian Government during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
AerCap, a Dublin-based firm that is the largest aircraft leasing company in the world, owns 152 commercial aircraft across Russia and Ukraine valued at almost $2.4 billion, according to a report in the Irish Times.
Meanwhile, Dublin-based companies SMBC Aviation Capital and Avolon have leased 48 aircraft to Russia between them.
Reuters reports that roughly two-thirds of commercial aircraft used in Russia are made by Boeing (334 planes) and Airbus (304), with Irish companies leasing a significant portion of those planes.
New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas L. Friedman noted that EU sanctions require these leasing companies to repossess any aircraft leased to Russia by the end of March, potentially grinding Russian aviation to a halt.
Aeroflot, Russia's state airline, has already announced that it will be suspending all international flights due to "additional circumstances that prevent the performance of flights" and Friedman believes that domestic flights are almost certain to be suspended in the near future.
The halting of domestic flights could prove fatal to the Russian Government, considering Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of landmass, spanning 11 timezones.
"If this persists, the grip of the Russian central government over the Russian landmass could begin to loosen," Friedman wrote in a column on Sunday.
The three-time Pulitzer Prize winner also noted the work of 19-year-old Irish-American college student Jack Sweeney, who previously rose to fame after he set up a Twitter bot account using publicly available air-traffic information to track Elon Musk's private jet and post regular updates of his location.
Musk reportedly offered Sweeney $50K Tesla Model 3 through a car dealer to shut down the account, which Sweeney rejected.
The Central Florida student has now set up a similar Twitter account tracking the location of various Russian oligarchs.
The @RUOligarchJets account has amassed more than 400,000 followers in just a few days, with Bloomberg noting that it offers "easy accessibility and the enticing window" into the lives of Putin's most trusted associates.
"Sweeney is making it more difficult for Putin’s pals to hide their often ill-gotten wealth," Friedman writes.