Almost a week after the Russian military began its offensive to invade Ukraine, sanctions against Russia turned out to be among the toughest the European Union imposed on a third country.
So far, the European Union has prevented hundreds of Russians from entering its territory, froze their assets in member states, banned state-owned media, such as Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, and also targeted the Lukashenko regime, stressing that the latter was complicit in the attack on Ukraine.
Among other things, the European Union has banned any Russian aircraft from operating in its airspace. The move was announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a speech after a meeting last Sunday.
First, we are closing the airspace of the European Union to the Russians. We propose a ban on all Russian-owned, Russian-registered, or Russian-controlled aircraft. These planes will no longer be able to land, take off or fly over the territory of the European Union. This applies to any aircraft owned, leased or controlled in any way by a Russian natural or legal person,” von der Leyen said.
It also clarified that private planes belonging to the Russian oligarchs were included in the ban.
Following this move, Spain, among other countries, announced a day later that it had closed Spanish airspace to airlines from the Russian Federation.
However, the Spanish government indicated that the ban will not apply in the case of emergency landings or overflights, as well as flights that previously obtained permission to fly over the ground necessary for humanitarian purposes.
On the territory of Sweden, the ban came into force on February 28, too.
This flight ban is intended to further isolate Russia. Announcing the move, Swedish EU Affairs Minister Hans Dahlgren said, “It is also important that the EU continues to show great unity.”
Other EU countries, including here Belgium, Greece and Latvia, have also closed their airspace to Russian aircraft.
Immediately after the European Union announced its decision to ban all Russian flights from its airspace, the Russian authorities responded in kind. According to Reuters, Russia on Monday closed its airspace to airlines from 27 countries in the European Union and nine others – Albania, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Canada, Jersey, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom.
The same source claimed that following the move, the number of flights through Kazakhstan’s airspace tripled to more than 450 on Monday.