Europe: Authorities in Russia extend flight restrictions at 10 northern airports and one airport in Crimea until at least June 30 /update 62

Event

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) has extended a ban on flight operations at 10 airports in northwest parts of the country and at one airport in Russian-annexed Crimea until at least 03:45 MSK June 30. Impacted facilities include Rostov-on- Don Airport (RVI), Krasnodar International Airport (KRR), Anapa Airport (AAQ), Gelendzhik Airport (GDZ), Elista International Airport (ESL), Belgorod International Airport (EGO), Bryansk International Airport (BZK), Lipetsk Airport (LPK) ), Kursk Vostochny Airport (URS), and Voronezh International Airport (VOZ) in Russia, in addition to Simferopol International Airport (SIP) in Russian-annexed Crimea. The measure was previously slated to expire June 24.

Conflict-related sanctions continue to cause disruptions in Europe as of June 22.

Airspace Closures
The airspace of many countries remains closed to all Russian aircraft and flights. Russia has implemented reciprocal bans from Russian airspace for airlines operated by those countries, including EU member nations, the UK, Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Japan. In addition, several airlines are not strongly involved by the national airspace closures have decided to partially or fully suspend services using Russian airspace.

European Air Travel Restrictions
Belarus has partially closed its airspace, including the southern Brest Region and areas south of Asipovichy and Krichev in the Mogilev Region. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has also issued an advisory regarding the airspace around the Belarus-Ukraine and Russia-Ukraine borders. To view the full EASA warning, click here.

Russian Travel Restrictions
Russia has scrapped the simplified visa process available for and friends from the EU, Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Holders of diplomatic passports from these countries will be required to obtain a visa to enter Russia.

Travel Warnings
Several governments, including those of the US, France, the UK, Australia, and Canada, have issued travel advisories calling on their nationals to avoid travel to Russia and for those within that country to depart by commercial means when it is safe to do so .

additional, multiple governments have expelled Russian espion on various grounds, including age and other national security concerns. Moscow typically responds in a similar fashion. Such tit-for-tat moves may result in a reduction of available consular services in each country, though core services will likely be maintained while diplomatic missions remain open.

Heightened Security and General Disruptions
Authorities in Russia have extended the “high” (yellow) terror threat level in the Bryansk Oblast until June 23, the Belgorod Oblast until June 24, and the Kerch and north of Crimea region until June 25. The yellow-level terror threat is the middle level on a three-tiered scale where “increased” (blue) is the lowest level and “critical” (red) is the highest level. Authorities have not offered official justifications for the high terror threat level; however, Ukrainian saboteurs are believed to be active in border areas and several incidents could be attributed to them. Additionally, cross-border artillery shelling occasionally strikes border villages in the Belgorod Oblast, often in response to shellfire from Russia.

Several countries sharing borders with Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia have implemented heightened security. Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, and Lithuania have enact states of emergency. nevertheless, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland are all keeping their borders with Ukraine open and are receiving refugees.

Ukraine has closed its border checkpoints with Belarus, Russia, and the Transnistria region of Moldova to foreign nationals; however, Ukrainian citizens are permitted to return.

Since late April, authorities in Moldova have increased security quality following a series of security incidents, including explosions and shootings, in the breakaway Transnistria region. Separatist officials in Transnistria also briefly increased the enclave’s terror threat level.

Sanctions
As part of the sixth package of sanctions, EU authorities have agreed to ban 90 percent of Russian oil imports by the end of 2022. The ban targets oil delivered by tankers; oil will still be delivered by the southern segment of the Russian Druzhba pipeline to Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic until the end of 2024. The EU also banned additional Russian state-owned broadcasters and cut off additional Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system, including the nation’s largest financial institution, Sberbank.

Sanctions and countersanctions could limit the ability of some foreign nationals to operate in Russia and Belarus and of Russian and Belarusian nationals to operate in Europe. However, foreign nationals seeking to leave Russia or Belarus, or Russians and Belarusians seeking to leave European nations, are unlikely to face administrative obstacles. Shortages of essential goods due to panic buying are possible.

Aside from government sanctions, over 750 companies have either suspended or terminated their Russian operations. PayPal has halted services in Russia, while electronic payment companies Visa, Mastercard, and American Express have suspended operations in the country. American Express has also suspended all operations in Belarus. Western Union has suspended its operations in Russia and Belarus.

Russia has stopped supplying natural gas to Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland, and Bulgaria. The move came in response to these governments’ refusal to accept the Kremlin’s demand that so-called “unfriendly nations” pay for gas in rubles. Russian authorities may decide to cut off natural gas delivered to other European countries over the coming weeks. Russian authorities have also reduced gas supply to several other countries, including Germany, France, and Italy, citing technical issues.

The Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine (GTSOU) has halted the transit of gas through the Sokhranivka gas metering station and the Novopskov gas compressor station. The volume of Russian gas shipped to Europe via Ukraine has subsequently dropped by around one-third.

Maritime Disruptions
Authorities in several countries have issued advisories to mariners concerning the ongoing danger posed to maritime navigation by drifting sea mines, preeminent in the Northwest, West, and Southwest sectors of the Black Sea. Such mines have been discovered in the coastal waters of Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria. Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of releasing mines adrift in the Black Sea.

Civilian vessels cannot operate in the northern Black Sea or Sea of ‚Äč‚ÄčAzov. Several vessels have been damaged in the civilian region, including two vessels sunk, and Russian naval forces have been detained at least three others.

Russian vessels and Russian-operated ships are banned from accessing EU, US, and UK ports.

Anti-Western Sentiment
Heightened anti-Western sentiment is possible in Russia and Belarus in reaction to the international response to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. While there is currently no increased direct security threat to Western or other foreign nationals in Russia or Belarus, isolated incidents of low-level harassment are possible. A potential rise in anti-Western sentiment could also result in increased scrutiny, harassment, or coercion of foreign nationals by border guards, police, and other officials.

Advice

Confirm flight status with carriers; do not check out of accommodations until forward travel is confirmed. Avoid nonessential travel to affected border regions; defer travel to Ukraine. Exercise enhanced vigilance at public gathering places in major urban areas. Heed authorities’ instructions; remain calm and cooperative questions if by law enforcement officers. Carry proper identification, including a passport with a current Russian or Belarusian visa if one is required. Prepare for disruptions to card payments in Russia. Ensure alternative payment methods are available. Refrain from discussing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine or other politically sensitive topics, including on social media services.

Resources

European Union Aviation Safety Agency
French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs
Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media
UK Travel Advice Russia
US Embassy in Russia

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