Europe is closing its skies to Russian flights after Ukraine invasion

Russia has found itself almost entirely cut off from European airspace after an increasing number of European countries have been banning Russian airlines from their skies as a result of Moscow’s aggression on Ukraine.  

Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and Iceland said on Sunday that they are closing their airspace to Russian planes, while Sweden, Finland and Denmark said they’re preparing to do so. 

“Our European skies are open skies. They’re open for those who connect people, not for those who seek to brutally aggress,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Twitter on Sunday.

“It is now absolutely necessary to proceed with further … measures to isolate Russia,” Swedish EU Minister Hans Dahlgren told public service radio SR.

A flight ban has already been introduced by the U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Baltic States, Romania and Bulgaria. Germany also said it supports the measure and is preparing to enforce it starting 3 p.m. France and the Netherlands said they would close their airspace to Russian flights Sunday evening. Italy also announced it would enforce the ban.

The bans mean that Russian aircrafts won’t be able to fly over nor land in the countries that introduce them. Planes will also have to take routes around the banned airspace in order to reach destinations not covered by the measure, which will delay the flight time.

With Sunday’s decision from Helsinki, almost all countries on the EU’s eastern flank will close their skies to Russia, making it very difficult for Russian planes to enter the EU. 

Russia has retaliated with similar measures against some of the countries that introduced the ban.

Some of the EU’s major airlines, including German Lufthansa, Dutch KLM and Polish LOT, canceled their flights to Russia. 

Ukraine has also closed its airspace to all civilian flights for safety reasons on Thursday.

This article was updated.

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