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February 28, 2022

Russia has banned airlines from 36 countries from using its airspace in a tit-for-tat response to Western sanctions.

The country said it would stop flights from nations including Germany, Spain, Italy and Canada.

Russia had already barred UK airlines from flying to and across the region after Britain banned national airline Aeroflot from landing in the UK.

On Sunday, Europe shut its skies to Russian owned or controlled planes.

The announcement means all planes, including the private jets of oligarchs, will now be unable to land in, take off from or fly over any EU nation.

It is one of a number of sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
On Monday, the Russian aviation regulator, Rosaviatsia, said: "A restriction has been imposed on flights for airlines of 36 countries in accordance with international law as a retaliatory measure for the ban imposed by the European states on the flights of commercial airliners operated by Russian airlines and/or registered in Russia."

The measures mean airlines will have to make long detours on some routes, potentially raising the cost of fuel and tickets.

The countries banned from Russia's airspace are: Albania, Anguilla, Austria, Belgium, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland, the Faroe Islands), Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK.

Swiss International Airlines, which is owned by Germany's Lufthansa, said that it had cancelled flights from Zurich to Moscow despite Switzerland not appearing on Russia's list of banned countries.

A spokesperson for the Swiss airline also said it was not flying through Russian airspace.

It said: "We continue to closely monitor the development of the situation and are in close exchange with the Swiss and international authorities as well as with the Lufthansa Group for our operational decisions."

Meanwhile, cruise firm Carnival, which owns P&O Cruises as well as Cunard, said it was changing journeys on Baltic cruises.

The company said it would advise guests of the changes "as soon as possible".

On Monday, Switzerland - traditionally a neutral country and whose banks are believed to hold billions of dollars in Russian funds- said that it would adopt EU financial sanctions against Moscow.

The Swiss justice minister, Karin Keller-Sutter, also said it had banned five oligarchs with links to Russia's president Vladimir Putin from entering the country, though declined to name them.

The BBC's correspondent in Geneva, Imogen Foulkes, said: "Make no mistake, this is a huge step for Switzerland, which has often agonised over what being neutral actually means.

"Today, Swiss president Ignazio Cassis made it clear: the attack on Ukraine was an unacceptable attack on freedom and democracy," she said.