WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration moved Thursday to stifle U.S. exports to three Russian airlines in what officials described as unprecedented enforcement action.

The Commerce Department said the move would prevent the airlines — Russia’s national carriers Aeroflot, Utair and Azur Air — from receiving items from the United States, including parts to service their planes.

“These restrictions are important because obviously it’s hard to keep flying if you can’t maintain your planes,” Matthew Axelrod, assistant secretary of commerce for export enforcement, told reporters.

The effect, he said, is that sanctioned airlines “and their fleet of aircraft will, over time, be largely unable to continue flying, whether internationally or domestically, as they are now cut off from international support and the U.S. parts and related services they need to maintain and support their fleets.

The actions, known as temporary denial orders, allow the Commerce Department to grant exceptions when the safety of a flight would be at risk. Orders run for 180 days, although they can be renewed.

The three airlines that were designated had previously violated U.S. government restrictions, and the steps were taken to prevent expected violations in the future, officials said.

The private sector has also taken its own action against Russian airlines in response to the war on Ukraine, with Delta Air Lines suspending its codeshare partnership with Russian flag carrier Aeroflot in February.

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