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Russia threatens to close airspace to Western airlines


MOSCOW – Russia on Monday warned that it might restrict overflight rights for Western carriers, as the European Union was set to grant final approval to new sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, said in an interview on Monday that Russia would react to new sanctions on its energy and banking sector.

“If Western carriers have to avoid our airspace, this might cause the bankruptcy of many airlines, who already are fighting for survival,’’ Medvedev said.

The prime minister added that sanctions were the wrong tool to achieve peace in Ukraine.

“Sadly there is a desire to use force in international relation.

“EU member states have until 3 p.m to apply their final seal of approval on the restrictive measures, which would then come into effect on Tuesday,’’ a report said.

The bloc’s ambassadors according to report will be puting finishing touches to the sanctions next week.

According to diplomats, they will further limit Moscow’s access to European financial markets and exports.

However, new travel bans and asset freeze against Russians and Ukrainian separatists were also expected. [eap_ad_2] According to report the West had accused Russia of fuelling the conflict in eastern Ukraine by sending heavy weapons, fighters and regular troops into the neighbouring country.

A ceasefire agreed on Friday between the pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government remained fragile.

Separatists’ leaders had accused government forces of firing on their positions in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The government had however rejected these accusations over the weekend and accused the insurgents of violating the truce.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko reiterated his demand that the ceasefire must be monitored.

Poroshenko in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, pleaded for a quick introduction of a verification mission by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Ukraine and the U.S. began three days of Black Sea military exercises on Monday. (dpa/NAN)[eap_ad_3]

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