Europe and Canada move to close skies to Russian planes after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Europe and Canada have announced they would close their airspace to Russian airlines after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union would shut down its airspace for planes owned, registered, or controlled by Russians, “including the private jets of oligarchs.”

Canada’s transport minister, Omar Alghabra, said his nation was closing its airspace to all Russian planes to hold the country accountable for an unprovoked attack on its neighbor.

The European Union action came after many of its member countries had said they were barring Russian planes or planned to do so by Sunday night.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo tweeted that European skies are “open for those who connect people, not for those who seek to brutally aggress.”

“There is no room in Dutch airspace for a regime that applies unnecessary and brutal violence,” Mark Harbers, the Netherlands’ minister of infrastructure and waterworks, said on Twitter.

A handful of European nations including Spain, Greece, and Turkey had resisted closing their airspace before von der Leyen’s announcement.

Robert Mann, an aviation consultant in New York, said the moves by the European Union and Canada would put added pressure on the U.S. to also bar Russian flights.

“It is difficult to understand why we are last to move, both operationally and financially,” he said.

As more airlines canceled flights in and out of Russia, and more countries blocked Russian airlines, the U.S. embassy in Moscow said Americans there “should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available.”

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Russia has responded to western aviation sanctions by banning flights from several European countries including from the UK. Russian airline S7 suspended flights to Europe.

On Sunday afternoon U.S. time, a Moscow-New York flight by Russian national carrier Aeroflot turned back after passing over Norway, according to flight-tracking services. The plane had been routed to fly over Canada. Other Aeroflot flights took circuitous routes after European countries began closing their airspace.

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