Ukraine sees no point closing airspace amid Russia standoff -top aide

A plane carrying military aid, delivered as part of the United States’ security assistance to Ukraine, is parked at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, February 5, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

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KYIV, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Ukraine sees no point closing its airspace in response to Moscow’s troop build-up, as senior official said on Sunday, as some carriers reviewed their services to the country after the United States warned that Russia could invade at any time. read more

Dutch airline KLM – part of Air France (AIRF.PA) – said it would stop flying to Ukraine and Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) said it was considering suspending flights, as a local newspaper, Ukrayinska Pravda, said in an unconfirmed report that the government might discuss the air traffic issue on Sunday.

Two third of the 298 passengers killed when Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014 as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch citizens.

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The infrastructure ministry said airlines were continuing to operate “without any restrictions”.

It also said it was ready to provide additional financial guarantees to support local airlines, many of which use leased planes, after one Ukrainian carrier, SkyUp, said it had to divert a flight after the plane’s owner barred it from entering Ukrainian airspace.

“The current situation requires a solution at the state level. Now we are working together with state authorities to find solutions,” SkyUp’s CEO Dmytro Seroukhov said.

Meanwhile, the carrier had suspended the sale of ticket for flights up to Wednesday, he added.

News agency Interfax Ukraine said Ukrainian insurance companies had received a notification from reinsurers that airlines were not covered for war risks.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said scheduling reconfigurations by individual carriers had “nothing to do with the decisions or policies of our state.”

“The most important point is that Ukraine itself sees no point in closing the sky. This is nonsense. And, in my opinion, it somewhat resembles a kind of partial blockade,” he told Reuters.

NO SIGNS OF EXODUS

The United States, its Western allies and other nations have been scaling back or evacuating embassy staff and have advised their citizens not to travel to Ukraine amid the standoff.

Washington says the Russian military, which has more than 100,000 troops massed near Ukraine, could invade at any time. Moscow denies having any such plan and has described such warnings as “hysteria”.

At Kyiv’s Borispil Airport, the largest in Ukraine, there was little sign on Saturday of an exodus.

Oksana Yurchenko was traveling back to Australia with her child. “We were visiting our family here in Ukraine. We were planning to stay a bit longer but this situation is a bit scary,” the chef and a beauty salon owner said.

Australia has advised its citizens to leave Ukraine and said on Sunday it was evacuating its embassy.

Ricky, a Scotsman who lives in Ukraine, said he saw no sign of public anxiety on the streets. “I do not see anyone in fear in Ukraine, everyone is just getting on with their life,” he said at the airport as he waited for a flight to go on holiday.

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Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Edmund Blair and Frances Kerry and John Stonestreet

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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