Ukraine Pushes for Full EU Airspace Closure to Russia

An Aeroflot Boeing 777 on the tarmac.
Sergey Kustov, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

The Council of the EU has decided to extend the sanctions regime against Russia for another six months until September 15, 2024, updating the listings for 97 individuals and nine legal entities.

Ukraine is urging the European Union to further tighten sanctions by banning all Russian air traffic from transiting through EU airspace.

This would be a significant escalation of the current measures, which already prohibit Russian airlines from landing or taking off in the EU.

Why the Push for a Full Ban?

Ukrainian officials believe a complete airspace ban would further isolate Russia and cripple its economic and military capabilities.

They argue that allowing transit flights provides Russia with a lifeline to maintain some level of normalcy and continue generating revenue.

By cutting off this access, Ukraine hopes to put additional pressure on the Russian government.

Current Sanctions and the EU Response

The EU has already implemented a series of sanctions targeting Russia in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

These sanctions include restrictions on financial institutions, export bans on certain goods, and, as mentioned earlier, a ban on Russian aircraft using EU airports.

Currently, the European Union is preparing its 14th package of sanctions against Russia. In the USA, efforts are underway to identify ways in which Russia circumvents them and to try to prevent this.

A Russian Aeroflot Airbus parked in Geneva.
RomanDeckert, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the same time, Ukrainian officials propose adding a ban on aviation transit through the EU to the Russian Federation and Belarus to the restrictions.

The EU is yet to decide on Ukraine’s request for a full airspace ban. This is a complex issue with potential economic and logistical consequences for the EU itself.

Denys Kostrzhevskyi – Kyiv Airport Comments

Denys Kostrzhevskyi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Airport Kyiv offered comment on the situation. “The main goal of the sanctions is to reduce the economic and military potential of the aggressor,” he explained.

“Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western countries have implemented a large number of restrictions. However, Russia has adapted and found many ways to circumvent them over the past two years.”

“In particular, the focus has been on maritime routes through which Russia exports its energy resources, earning funds to finance aggression. At the same time, the issue of transit of aircraft through EU airspace has been completely overlooked,” he said.

Kostrzhevskyi believes that the call by the Prime Minister of Ukraine to European colleagues to introduce a ban on aviation transit to the Russian Federation and Belarus is absolutely logical.

Looking Ahead

The situation in Ukraine remains fluid, and it’s unclear whether the EU will adopt the full ban on Russian air traffic.

However, Ukraine’s request highlights the ongoing efforts to tighten the economic screws on Russia and demonstrates the evolving nature of the sanctions regime.

“It is necessary to restrict the logistics of Russians everywhere – at sea, on land, and in the air,” Kostrzhevskyi says.

“And although aviation transport is not crucial for Russia today, these restrictions will still be felt by the economy of the aggressor country and its satellite, Belarus.”

The hope clearly remains that support from European partners regarding this issue will be forthcoming, and restrictions will be adopted in the near future.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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