| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

France, Germany, Spain, Italy, 5 more European states close airspace to Russian flights

Adding to a growing list that leaves Russian airlines facing an almost complete airspace blockade to the country’s west, Nine more European nations moved to close their airspace to Russian planes on Sunday.

France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands joined the UK, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland in closing their skies to Russian aircraft.

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, transport minister of France, said the measure will come into force “from this evening on.”

“France is shutting its airspace to all Russian aircraft and airlines from this evening on. To the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe responds with total unity,” he said on Twitter.

France, however, has ruled out deploying troops to Ukraine.

Paris has no plans to send soldiers to Ukraine, but will supply military equipment to Kyiv, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal told radio channel France Inter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has sent the French government a detailed list of the military equipment Ukraine needs, he added.

Germany’s government said in a statement that German airspace will be off limits for Russian planes and airlines for three months from 3 p.m. local time (1400GMT) on Sunday.

Spain’s Transport Ministry announced that the country “will proceed to close the airspace to Russian airlines.”

“Following the cooperation guidelines set by the European Union, this measure will have an effect on flights operated by Russian airlines that use Spanish airspace,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio announced on Twitter that Italy will close its airspace to Russia and support a similar move throughout the EU.

“Today at the extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council I will support a common action of all EU countries: the entire EU closes its airspace to Russia,” he said.

Di Maio said on Saturday that Italy will provide €110 million ($124 million) to Ukraine “as a concrete expression of solidarity and support.”

Belgium’s prime minister said its airspace will also be closed to all Russian airlines.

“Belgium has decided to close its airspace to all Russian airlines. Our European skies are open skies. They’re open for those who connect people, not for those who seek to brutally aggress,” Alexander De Croo said on Twitter.

Austria voiced support for the “EU-wide blocking of airspace for Russian aircraft,” saying such actions “are most effective when we act as one.”

“Austria will immediately block its airspace for all Russian aircraft,” government minister Leonore Gewessler said on Twitter.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer later confirmed on Twitter that Austria had closed “its airspace and airports to Russian aircraft from 3 p.m. (1400GMT).”

Austrian Airlines announced also on Sunday that it “will not use Russian airspace for the next seven days.”

“Flights to Russia will be suspended during this period … We continue to monitor the situation closely and are in close exchange with the authorities,” the company said on Twitter.

Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod announced that “Denmark will be closing its airspace for Russian aircraft.”

“At today’s meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs we will push for an EU-wide ban,” he said on Twitter.

“Russia’s unprovoked, despicable attack on Ukraine must be met with strongest possible international sanctions & condemnation.”

Sweden will also shut its airspace to Russian planes, the country’s EU Affairs Minister Hans Dahlgren said.

He added that Sweden will push for all EU countries to take the same step to ramp up pressure on Moscow.

The Netherlands “is preparing to close its airspace to Russian aircrafts this evening,” said Mark Harbers, the country’s infrastructure and water management minister.

“There is no place for a regime that uses unnecessary and brutal violence in Dutch airspace,” he added in a social media post.

  • Anadolu Agency