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“Unfriendly Skies: Ukraine to Close Airspace to Russian Airlines” By WCARN.com Christopher Miller, Mashable, September 25, 2015.

September 28, 2015

News Item A-7: “Unfriendly Skies: Ukraine to Close Airspace to Russian Airlines” By WCARN.com Christopher Miller, Mashable, September 25, 2015.

The skies over Eastern Europe just became a little less friendly.

Ukraine announced it will close its airspace to Russian airlines starting October 25 (the latest move in its conflict with Russia over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in the east of Ukraine). The ban will have a significant impact on major Russian airlines, including the national carrier, Aeroflot (ARO), and (Transaero) (TRX).

“In accordance with a decision by the Security Council, the government of Ukraine is adopting a decision to ban flights by Russian companies, primarily (ARO) and (TRX), to Ukraine,” Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the Ukrainian government cabinet, according to a statement posted on the Cabinet’s Ministry site. “Airlines with the Russian tricolor have no reason to be in Ukrainian airports.”

Moreover, the government moved to ban Russian planes transporting soldiers or military cargo from flying through Ukrainian airspace, and blocked government agencies from using software made by Russia’s Kaspersky Labs.

The Russian response came almost immediately, with the government saying it would retaliate in kind. “If these intentions are realized in actual documents from Ukraine’s aviation authorities, by closing the airspace to Russian companies, then the Russian authorities will be compelled to take countermeasures,” said Russian Transportation Minister, Maxim Sokolov. “Ukrainian citizens will suffer first and foremost.”

“But I emphasize, that under the situation that has taken shape, the Russian side is being forced to do this by the Ukrainian side,” he added.

The Kremlin claimed Ukraine does not have the right to impose such a ban. “As far as we know, Yatsenyuk does not have the right to suspend air traffic. He does not have such a prerogative,” said Russian President, Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov. “Under international agreements, and international law, only the country’s aviation authorities can do this. Using these channels is also envisioned in the international law.”

“For now, I can say one thing: that the severing of air links between Russia and Ukraine would be another act of folly,” Peskov added.

Russia’s (ARO) and (TRX) fly multiple flights to and from Kiev to Moscow every day. (ARO) said that it was yet to receive a formal notification of the ban from Ukraine. “Only when and if Aeroflot (ARO) receives official notification from the aviation authorities of Ukraine that flights have been canceled, will (ARO) inform passengers and explain the rules on ticket reimbursement.”

Ukraine has also imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian companies, goods and individuals, for reasons of national security, according to the government. Russia has done the same.

While a renewed ceasefire has significantly lessened the fighting in Ukraine’s war-racked eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, a settlement to the bloody conflict that has killed nearly 8,000 people since April 2014, is still a long ways off.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko will meet with the French and German leaders in Paris on October 2 to discuss a political settlement. While the Russian and Ukrainian leaders will both speak at the UN General Assembly next week, officials in Kiev told “Mashable” there was “no possibility” the two would meet in New York.