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Russian Invasion of Ukraine is Changing the Global Airspace Map

Numerous countries are closing their airspace to Russian aircraft and airlines following the invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and its Federal Aviation Administration is blocking Russian aircraft and airlines from entering and using all domestic U.S. airspace. 

“The United States stands with our allies and partners across the world in responding to Putin’s unprovoked aggression against the people of Ukraine,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on March 2.

The Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) and regulatory orders suspends the operations of all aircraft owned, certified, operated, registered, chartered, leased, or controlled by, for, or for the benefit of, a person who is a citizen of Russia. This includes passenger and cargo flights, and scheduled as well as charter flights, effectively closing U.S. air space to all Russian commercial air carriers and other Russian civil aircraft.

Russian aircraft were already effectively barred from most U.S. destinations due to bans already imposed by Canada and Europe.

Many airlines, including Delta, American, United and United Parcel Service have also suspended flying over Russian airspace. In addition, manufacturers Boeing, Airbus and Embraer have all announced that they will stop sending spare parts to Russia.

International supply chains are taking a hit, with some airlines re-routing flights but many others canceling services that fly over Russian airspace. The greatest disruption is likely to be seen in the Asia-Europe corridor.

Routes over Ukrainian airspace are inevitably affected. The country closed its skies to civilian aircraft on February 24, according to flight tracker Flightradar 24, averting potential tragedy for airline passengers and crew. The Russian assault followed just hours later.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council has met to discuss the worsening situation. The Council underscored the paramount importance of preserving the safety and security of international civil aviation and the related obligations of Member States, and in this context, urged the Russian Federation to cease its unlawful activities to ensure the safety and security of civil aviation in all affected areas, and to respect its obligations under the Chicago Convention as well as other relevant international air law treaties. It called upon all concerned parties to seek to resolve the crisis through peaceful dialogue and diplomatic channels. 

The Council also recalled with deep sorrow the human suffering that was caused as a result of the downing of flight MH17 in the east of Ukraine on 17 July 2014, and underlined that such a tragedy should never happen again. 

In the same context the Council reconfirmed its support to the Safer Skies initiative led by Canada relating to improving international efforts to safeguard civilian flight operations over or in the vicinity of conflict zones.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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