Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Russia in sanction threat against EU

Russia may restrict or impose a ban on Asian-bound European airlines from flying over its Siberian territory as part of a retaliatory move against western-imposed sanctions.

On Tuesday (5 August), President Vladimir Putin asked his government to draw up counter measures to EU/US sanctions.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Russian government mulls imposing a flight ban on European airlines (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying any retaliatory measures “should be done very carefully to support domestic producers but not hurt consumers”.

He described the western sanctions as “policy instruments aimed at putting pressure on the economy are contrary to all rules and regulations,” reports the Financial Times.

The EU imposed tougher economic sanctions on Russia following the shooting down of a passenger plane over separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine last month.

The effect of these sanctions is already being felt by Russian tourist agencies, many of which have gone bust, due in part to fluctuating exchange rates. Up to 15,000 Russian tourists are reportedly stranded abroad, with many in Greece, Turkey, and Tunisia, reports the Wall Street Journal.

But the trans-Siberian ban idea was floated after EU sanctions grounded low-cost carrier Dobrolyot, operated by Aeroflot, because it flies to Russia’s annexed Crimea.

The sanctions cancelled the carrier’s leasing agreements, technical maintenance, insurance, and aero-navigation contracts. The budget airline operates two Boeings 737-800 NG and one Sukhoi Superjet-100.

Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev met the Russian transport minister and a deputy chief executive of Aeroflot on Tuesday (5 August) to discuss the possible fall-out from western sanctions on Russian airlines.

Vedomosti, a business daily in Russia, reported talks were underway to restrict or ban European airlines en route to Asia from flying through Russian airspace.

The restrictions or ban would require the airlines to divert their flight paths via the much longer Gulf or polar routes, substantially increasing travel time and fuel costs.

Russia’s air transport agency says the Siberia routes cut travel distance by 4,000 km and fuel and fee costs by €22,000. Lufthansa operates about 180 flights a week through Siberian airspace.

According to experts cited by Reuters, the ban would increase European airline operational costs from 25 to 50 percent or up to €150 million per year.

But it would also mean Aeroflot would lose out on a special overflight fee imposed on European airlines, which fly through Russian airspace.

The paper says Aeroflot stands to lose some €225 million a year in overflight fees if the Russian government follows through with the proposal.

The reported announcement saw Aeroflot shares tumble on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Putin is calling for “an international humanitarian mission” in eastern Ukraine, seen by Kiev as an excuse to send in Russian troops as peacekeepers.

Around 1,500 Russian troops are stationed in the separatist Moldovan region of Transnistria. Moldova’s pro-EU government on Tuesday told Russia to withdraw its soldiers and weapons.

Russia imposes retaliatory sanctions on EU

Moscow is slapping a ban on EU-imported fruit and vegetables and food from the US in retaliation for western economic sanctions. Meanwhile, 20,000 Russian soldiers are stationed on the Ukraine border.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us