The Netherlands to close airspace to Russian aircraft on Sunday evening
The Netherlands will close its airspace to Russian aircraft starting Sunday evening, Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers announced on Twitter. He wrote that the country is now making preparations to implement the ban.
"There is no room in Dutch airspace for a regime that applies unnecessary and brutal violence," said the minister.
Dutch airline KLM already announced on Saturday that it would not fly to destinations in Russia for at least a one-week period. It also said it would avoid Russian airspace when flying to other countries. The airline is in frequent communication with Dutch government officials and intelligence agencies, which meet regularly to assess threats aircraft could encounter when flying over different countries.
More and more countries are closing their airspace to Russian aircraft due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Romania, Denmark and others made similar announcements on Sunday.
"Belgium has decided to close its airspace to all Russian airlines," Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said. "Our European skies are open to those who connect people, not those who seek brutal aggression.”
Finland and Denmark also announced a ban on Russian aircraft. Romania banned all commercial and non-commercial flights, but granted an exception for emergency flights and humanitarian aid.
Previously, many European countries already decided on the same measure, including Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Poland and Germany. As a result, aircraft flying west from Russia have had to divert to remaining routes where there airplanes were allowed to travel. As a countermeasure, Russia has also closed its airspace to aircraft from many of these countries.
An official of the European Union said on Sunday that the EU is likely to make a formal decision shortly, though most of the EU countries will likely have closed their airspace to Russia by that time. The official said a total ban could be part of new sanctions against Russia. The foreign ministers of the European Union were scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss the new sanctions.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.