European Union, Canada Close Airspace To Russia

As of Monday morning, at least 28 countries had shut down airspace for Russian owned and operated aircraft.

More than two dozen countries, including all of the European Union, shuttered their airspace to Russian aircraft Monday in retaliation for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decision comes as a growing number of airspace bans were put in place over the weekend across Europe severely restricting where Russian airlines and other operators can fly.

“As of 28 February, landing, takeoff, and [overflight] of EU airspace is prohibited for all Russian owned, registered, or controlled aircraft, including private jets of oligarchs,” the European Commission said Monday morning.

Following the announcement, Russian carrier Aeroflot said it was canceling all of its flights to European destinations, Reuters reported.

The government of Switzerland, renowned for decades of neutrality, also announced Monday afternoon that it, too, would join the EU in imposing financial sanctions and a flight ban.

“[S}wiss airspace will be closed to all flights from Russia and to all movements of aircraft with Russian markings from 3 p.m. Monday with the exception of flights for humanitarian, medical or diplomatic purposes,” the government said in a statement.

The move to prohibit Russian aircraft in EU skies comes one day after Canada announced it would be closing its airspace to all Russian aircraft operators.

“The Government of Canada is prohibiting the operation of Russian-owned, chartered or operated aircraft in Canadian airspace, including in the airspace above Canada’s territorial waters. This airspace closure is effective immediately and will remain until further notice,” Transport Canada said. 

The move of unambiguous support for Ukraine was a direct reaction to Russia’s “aggressive actions,” the country’s transport minister said.

“All of Canada is united in its outrage of President Putin’s aggression against Ukraine. In response, we have closed Canadian airspace to Russian-owned or operated aircraft. The Government of Canada condemns Russia’s aggressive actions and we will continue to take action to stand with Ukraine,” Canada’s Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, said in a statement.

As of Monday morning, the U.S. had ramped up sanctions against Russia to include freezing Russian Central Bank assets in the country, but had stopped short of issuing a similar flight ban. 

U.S. State Department officials issued an urgent travel warning Monday urging Americans in Russia to consider leaving the country, citing the flight bans.

“Due to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, an increasing number of airlines are canceling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines,” the warning said. “In addition, airspace around southern Russia is restricted and a number of airports in the area have closed.”

The countries prohibiting the overflying of Russian owned and operated aircraft (as of February 28, 2022) are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

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