Unfriendly Skies

Russia Threatens to Ban EU Flights Over Its Airspace

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned about an airspace ban for Western Airlines.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Russia’s retaliation for additional EU sanctions might prove costly for Western air carriers by forcing them to take longer routes.

  • Facts


    • The 28 EU states have agreed on new sanctions but haven’t imposed them yet.
    • The sanctions are intended to make it more difficult for Russian state banks, armaments firms and oil-producing companies to access capital in Europe.
    • The cease-fire between government forces in eastern Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels remains fragile.
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Russia has threatened the European Union with tough reprisals in reaction to new economic sanctions. On Monday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev hinted at a ban on Western airlines from flying over Russia should the proposed EU sanctions take effect. “Our skies are open to our partners. But if we are going to be restricted, we have to react,” Mr. Medvedev said.

The EU states agreed on further sanctions Monday evening, but when they would take effect was left open by Herman van Rompuy, president of the European Council, which represents the 28 member governments. The delay was to allow time to evaluate cease-fire agreements and the peace plan in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels have battled government forces.

“Depending on the situation locally, the EU is prepared to review the sanctions agreed, either partially or completely,” Mr. Van Rompuy said in a written statement.

The new sanctions are designed to make it much more difficult for Russian state banks, armaments firms and oil-producing companies to have access to European credit. The European Union is also expanding the export ban on technology for oil production and restrictions on the export of products that can be used for both civilian and military purposes. Twenty-four more names have been added to the list of individuals with frozen bank accounts and travel bans.

Besides government-affiliated banks Sberbank and VTBund, the credit restrictions affect Russia’s biggest oil concern Rosneft and Transneft, the company responsible for oil pipelines and the Gazprom subsidiary Neft. In the extended bans on dual-use products, three armaments firms are affected by the EU sanctions: OAK, Kalashnikov and Oboronprom.

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