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Russia closes airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including Greece

Russia has closed its airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including Greece and all other 26 members of the European Union, in response Ukraine-related sanctions targeting its aviation sector.

Some of the banned countries had already been identified, while others were named by the aviation authority Rosaviatsia for the first time on Monday following the punitive measures imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The flight bans are expected to hurt airlines that fly over the world’s biggest country to get from Europe to Asia. They are likely to force them to find new routes.

Rosaviatsia said that flights from those countries could in exceptional circumstances be authorized if they secure special clearance from Russia’s aviation authority or foreign ministry.

It listed the countries as Albania, Anguilla, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, British Virgin Islands, Germany, Gibraltar, Hungary, Greece, Denmark, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Jersey, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Earlier on Monday, Greece closed its airspace for all Russian aircraft in line with a European Union decision, the country’s civil aviation authority said. Only humanitarian and emergency flights will be allowed under a notice issued by the Greek authority. The notice will apply for three months, the authority said. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the invasion of Ukraine a “special operation” and justified it by saying “neo-Nazis” rule the country and threaten Russia’s security – a charge Kyiv and Western governments say is baseless propaganda. [Reuters]