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Europe and Canada Move to Close Skies to Russian Planes

Russia is now widely expected to retaliate further against the air blockades and other sanctions. It has already responded to the earliest European airspace bans with its own edicts barring airlines from Britain, Bulgaria and Poland.
A view shows the first Airbus A350-900 aircraft of Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot during a media presentation at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
A view shows the first Airbus A350-900 aircraft of Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot during a media presentation at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

European nations and Canada moved on Sunday to shut their airspace to Russian aircraft, an unprecedented step aimed at pressuring President Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

Aeroflot said it would cancel all flights to European destinations after E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the European Union had decided to close its airspace to Russian traffic.

The United States is considering similar action, but has yet to make a final decision, according to U.S. officials. The U.S. government said citizens should consider leaving Russia immediately on commercial flights, citing an increasing number of airlines cancelling flights as countries closed their airspace to Russia.

The ban on Russian jets comes as the airline industry continues to grapple with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic that is still undermining global demand for travel.

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