Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a law on Monday that switched over-borrowed EU jets to the Russian airplane registry, breaking international aviation rules.

The move came as leasing companies, mostly based in Ireland, were told by the EU to wrap up their contracts and get their planes back by March 28.

European Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said: “We are in the process to try to do our best.

“But to be honest, we’re not very trustful because when you have such abusive behaviour from a country like Russia, it’s difficult to say what the outcome will be.”

Putin’s move could see up to 515 airplanes, worth £7.6 billions, lost.

The move comes as Russia continues its deadly attack on Ukraine.

Russia’s armed forces hit a military depot in the Rivne region in western Ukraine on Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday, citing the defence ministry.

High-precision missiles hit a depot in Sarny, Rivne region, destroying storage facilities for missiles and ammunition, the ministry said.

Reports have not been verified.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden called Putin a war criminal in comments the Kremlin said were “unforgivable” as it insisted the war in Ukraine was “going to plan” amid talk of compromise at peace talks.

Kremlin forces kept up their bombardments of besieged cities, including intensified shelling of the capital Kyiv, and civilians waiting in line for bread and sheltering in a theatre were killed, according to US and Ukrainian officials Moscow has yet to capture any of Ukraine’s biggest cities following its invasion that began on February 24, the largest assault on a European state since World War Two, raising fears of wider conflict in the West.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the comment was “unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric”, according to Tass news agency.

Ukraine still hopes for a diplomatic solution. President Volodymyr Zelensky said negotiations were becoming “more realistic” and Russia said proposals under discussion were “close to an agreement.”

The US Embassy in Kyiv said Russian forces had shot dead 10 people waiting in line for bread in Chernihiv, northeast of Kyiv.

Russia denied the attack and said the incident was a hoax.

Emergency services said rescue workers had found the bodies of five people during searches of shell-hit buildings.

In the besieged southern port of Mariupol, the city council said Russian forces bombed a theatre where civilians were sheltering. The number of casualties was not known.

Russia denied it had carried out an air strike against the theatre.

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