Ukraine will ban major Russian airlines including Aeroflot, the Russian national airline, from flying to its airports starting next month as part of a broad set of trade sanctions imposed on Russia for supporting a separatist revolt inUkraine.
The ban, which will take effect on Oct. 25, was authorized in sweeping legislation passed this month that lists 90 Russian companies and about 900 individuals as targets for sanctions. It is the latest step in a wide-ranging trade war that has raged along the sidelines of the armed conflict, which has been in abeyance lately even as the political atmosphere has deteriorated.
Speaking to the Ukrainian cabinet on Friday, Prime Minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk said that Russian airlines, “primarily Aeroflot and Transaero,” another large carrier that is in the process of merging with Aeroflot, will be banned from Ukrainian airports under the sanctions measure. It was not clear what other Russian airlines might fall under the ban.
“Airlines with the Russian tricolor have no reason to be in Ukrainian airports,” a Ukrainian government website quoted Mr. Yatsenyuk as saying.
The ban also prohibits Russian cargo airlines from flying over Ukrainian territory while carrying military hardware or troops, a provision further limiting Russia’s options for projecting power toward the Mediterranean or the Middle East, after Bulgaria and other countries prohibited such flights this summer.
Ukraine and Western governments accuse Russia of sending weapons and soldiers into eastern Ukraine to help separatists fight a conflict that has killed nearly 8,000 people since it began in April 2014. Russia denies any involvement.
The announcement of the airline ban was a bold economic jab at Russia from Ukraine, a country usually on the receiving end of such maneuvers.
Russia has repeatedly raised the price of natural gas it charges Ukraine, twice shutting off fuel for the country in the dead of winter, and has banned imports from Ukraine, including chocolate and cheese.
Russia’s transport minister, Maksim Sokolov, immediately threatened to retaliate by banning flights by Ukrainian airlines into Russia. “We understand that this in fact will lead to a complete halt in air traffic between our countries,” he said.
Once Russia receives confirmation of the flight ban, he said, Russian air traffic controllers will apply a “mirror” measure against Ukrainian airlines.
Aeroflot now flies to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, and Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea. Other Russian airlines fly dozens of routes daily to cities throughout Ukraine.