The airspace over the territory of Ukraine has been closed since February 24th. Nonetheless, even when Ukrainians are looking for an opportunity to fly somewhere, it is mainly because they are fleeing for their lives. While the people of Ukraine are fighting for their survival, the population of Russia is complaining about economic pressure and restrictions when traveling.
From the first days of the full-scale war, a number of European airlines have suspended flights to Russia, and on February 27th, the European Union announced that it was closing its airspace to Russian-owned or controlled aircraft. The airspace for Russian planes was also closed by the United States and Canada.
Even Air Serbia, which has resisted international pressure for the longest, suspended flights to Russia as of March 16th. This decision closed the last air link between Europe and the Russian Federation. According to the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine, the Serbian airline continues to sell Moscow–Belgrade tickets, and the Flightradar24 service recorded such flights between the two countries. For Russians travelling in the western direction, Belarus, which is helping in the war against Ukraine, also remains opened.
Russia has already demonstrated the “respect” with which it treats its aviation partners. On March 14th, President Putin signed a document that allows Russian airlines to use aircraft of foreign lessors despite their explicit ban.
In spite of the economic and logistical difficulties, Russians can still fly in some of the southern and eastern directions. Thanks to Air Arabia, Emirates, FlyDubai, and Etihad Airways, many Russian celebrities and relatives of Russian officials involved in the war in Ukraine are trying to “sit out the turbulent times” in the UAE. Israel canceled visa-free travel for Ukrainians but not for Russians. Israel’s largest airline, El Al, continues to maintain flight connections with Russia. It is through these countries and air hubs that Russians travel to the EU, Canada, and the United States.
Turkey has not canceled visa-free travel for Russians nor restricted airspace for Russian planes. The country’s largest airline company, Turkish Airlines, carries out cooperation with Russia. However, since March 10th, the Turkish air carrier has suspended the sale of tickets to Russians on flights from Turkey to third countries. Thus, the Russians were cut off from opportunities to fly from Turkey to, for instance, Europe.
Flight connections with Russia are maintained by Hainan Airlines and Air China. Additionally, the data from public online radars indicates that China allows Russian aircraft that were re-registered after the sanctions by Western lessors (that is, actually stolen from them) to fly into its territory. On several occasions, these planes flew to Egypt and Bahrain.
The list of countries and foreign airlines that decided not to stop air connections with Russia includes: Egypt (EgyptAir), Moldova (Fly One, Air Moldova), Qatar (Qatar Airways), Bahrain (Gulf Air), Kazakhstan (SCAT), Kyrgyzstan (Avia Traffic), Armenia (Aircompany Armenia), Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan Airlines), Tajikistan (Somon Air), and Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan Airways).
In a time of fierce, aggressive, and unjustified war, the civilized world unites to deter the aggressor as quickly as possible. Among the most effective ways of influence for countries that are not directly participating in the war are economic and logistical pressure. The united and bold response of various countries indicates what kind of retribution awaits any potential initiator of the war.
The foreign airlines that continue to fly to Russia and thus help to circumvent economic and logistical pressures are harmful for a number of reasons. The aggressor state should be restricted in both the movement of people and the transportation of goods (in particular for military purposes). Those citizens of the Russian Federation who ideologically and financially support the aggression deserve inconveniences and travel restrictions during the war.
Do not use the services of these airlines. They indirectly support the killings in Ukraine and help Russia circumvent sanctions. Share this list, and help to restore peace in Ukraine!
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