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Ukraine Shuts Airports, Declares Some Airspace As ‘Danger Areas’ Amid Escalating Tensions With Russia

The Ukrainian government is closing airports in eastern Ukraine because of the confrontation with Russia. It has also declared some airspace in the east to be danger areas because of attempts by Russian aviation authorities to seize control of the airspace.

Updated: February 24, 2022 9:08 AM IST

By Analiza Pathak | Edited by Analiza Pathak

Ukraine Shuts Airports
Ukrainian National Guard servicemen stay in guard after activists set symbolic tomb crosses with the inscription "Russian occupier" during the rally called "Empire must die" outside Russian embassy in Kyiv on February 22, 2022. (AFP)

Kyiv: Amid escalating tensions with its neighbour Russia, Ukraine on Thursday, shut down its entire airspace, citing ‘potential hazard’. Ukrainian aviation authorities also have declared some airspace in the east to be “danger areas” because of attempts by Russian aviation authorities to seize control of the airspace. Similarly, Russia too has partially shut its airspace bordering Ukraine. The two nations are locked in a standoff with fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine – as highlighted by US and denied by Russia.

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The announcement Wednesday night establishes buffer zones for traffic controlled by Ukrainian authorities to avoid coming into potentially hazardous conflict with air traffic controlled by Russian authorities. Last week, Ukrainian aviation officials warned pilots in the region to be on the lookout for Russian authorities trying to take control of the airspace and to only recognise Ukraine’s controllers.

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Ukraine Declares Nationwide Emergency

Ukraine’s parliament has imposed a national state of emergency on Wednesday in response to the growing threat of a Russian invasion, reported news agency AFP. The state of emergency allows Ukraine’s regional governments to adopt heightened security measures that range from tighter ID and vehicle checks to more stringent policing.

“The situation is difficult but remains completely under our control,” Ukraine’s security and defence council secretary Oleksiy Danilov told lawmakers ahead of the vote.

The emergency will apply to all parts of Ukraine except for two Russian-backed eastern separatist regions (Donetsk and Luhansk regions) where a deadly insurgency has killed more than 14,000 people in the past two years. The state of emergency would last 30 days and can be extended for another 30 days, reported news agency Reuters.

Russia-Ukraine crisis

For weeks, Moscow has massed over 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders in a bid to pressurise Western nations to not allow Ukraine to join NATO, threatening an invasion. With US imposing sanctions on Russian-controlled companies, two Russian banks and preventing Russia from accessing Western financial institutions, Russia recognised Luhansk and Donetsk as independent nations.

Other Western allies, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Japan, have also imposed sanctions on Moscow and Germany has stalled its Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

Russia has already annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014, and pro-Russia rebels have since been fighting Ukrainian forces in the eastern areas of Donetsk and Luhansk – causing more than 14,000 people’s deaths.

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