The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

More European nations ban Russian flights from their airspace — including the entire E.U.

An Aeroflot Airbus A320-200 aircraft takes off at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow on June 10, 2018. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

LONDON — The tally of nations banning Russian aircraft from flying into and over their airspace grew on Sunday to include the entire European Union, amid a coordinated pushback against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday that the entire 27-nation bloc’s airspace will now be closed to Russian-owned, -registered or -controlled aircraft, “including the private jets of oligarchs.” The closure of E.U. skies was one of numerous strict new measures taken in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“They won’t be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU,” she wrote on Twitter.

Ahead of the announcement, Germany said it would ban Russian aircraft and flight operators starting at 3 p.m. local time Sunday. It joined Italy, Norway, France, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and North Macedonia, which indicated on Sunday that they would move to close their airspace to Russian flights. Other countries, including Estonia and Romania, had previously announced their intention to ban Russian flights.

A ban on Russian flights throughout the E.U. would largely cut off Russia from the easiest air route west, while countermeasures imposed by Moscow could make it more difficult for European carriers to fly east, notably to Asia.

“Our European skies are open skies,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo wrote on Twitter. “They’re open for those who connect people, not for those who seek to brutally aggress.”

Also on Sunday, Canada’s minister of transport, Omar Alghabra, said: “Effective immediately, Canada’s airspace is closed to all Russian aircraft operators. We will hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked attacks against Ukraine.”

Russia has so far retaliated by banning flights from at least nine countries. In various statements, the country’s Federal Agency for Air Transport called the moves by countries such as the United Kingdom and Romania to ban Russian flights “unfriendly.”

The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure said in a notice that its ban is set to last at least three months, during which most Russian flights and flight operators will be barred from German airspace, with some exceptions, including flights carrying humanitarian aid.

While many of Ukraine’s allies have moved to ban Russian flights from their own airspace, there appears to be little appetite for a no-fly zone over the country, a measure previously requested by Ukrainian officials. When asked about it on Friday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said enforcing a no-fly zone would mean putting British pilots in the line of fire and would be tantamount to a declaration of war.

“To do a no-fly zone I would have to put British fighter jets directly against Russian fighter jets,” Wallace told the BBC. “NATO would have to effectively declare war on Russia.”

Firozi reported from Washington. Emily Rauhala contributed to this report.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russia fired at least 85 missiles on at least six major cities in Ukraine on November 15, in one of the most widespread attacks of the war so far. The strikes came just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking by video link, presented a 10-point peace plan to G-20 leaders at a summit in Indonesia. As in previous Russian missile attacks, critical civilian infrastructure appeared to be primary targets. Parts of several cities that were hit were left without electrical power on Tuesday afternoon.

Russia’s Gamble: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine, and Western efforts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior U.S., Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.

Loading...