Now identified as an active conflict zone, Ukrainian airspace has been shut off from the civil aviation industry as Putin enacts ‘special military operation’
“War, war never changes,” and despite Putin’s insistence that his ‘special military operation’ is not a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the facts remain that the two countries have indeed gone to war. Amongst the various knock-on effects of this violent move from a frankly deluded semi-dictator is the instalment of a ‘no-fly zone’ over Ukraine to protect civil aircraft from being caught up in the fighting. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently declared the no-fly zone as Russian and Ukrainian jets clash over the country, a smart move given the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 back in 2014 over Crimea. “The provision of air traffic services to civilian users of the airspace of Ukraine is suspended,” stated the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise shortly before the EASA announced an official suspension of civilian flights in the area. It’s not like the aircraft could even have gotten off the ground anyway, with Russian missiles targeting civilian airports around Ukraine, despite Putin’s insistence that Russia is only targeting military assets.
Moldova has also closed off its airspace, with Belarus partially shutting theirs as well. This may very well be only the start of the disruption as the conflict evolves, however. “The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a high risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels,” Stated the EASA. Off the back of these announcements, the transport secretary Grant Shapps has also ordered aircraft flying to or from UK airports to give Ukrainian airspace a wide berth in the interest of public safety. I just hope that all British citizens managed to safely leave the country after last Thursday’s evacuation announcement. Being stuck in a conflict zone is not high on anyone’s list of priorities, especially one orchestrated by someone like Putin. I doubt the Russian president would give much care to ensuring international civilian safety, so it is just as well that other European nations and regulators have taken steps to ensure nobody is caught in a crossfire. I don’t think I need to remind anyone that it was a Russian missile that downed MH17, despite the objections Putin has to that fact. It’s uncertain in any war that civilian casualties can be avoided, but in this specific scenario, with Ukrainian citizens taking up arms against foreign invaders and their government supplying weapons to anyone who asks for them – the danger to civilians is real and tangible.