Feb 27, 2022
By Jeremy Logan
Canada has become the latest country to ban Russian aircraft from entering its airspace in response to Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced the flight ban on Sunday morning, saying the move was being taken in retaliation for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack neighbouring Ukraine.
“All of Canada is united in its outrage of President Putin’s aggression against Ukraine,” Alghabra said in a statement.
“In response, we have closed Canadian airspace to Russian-owned or operated aircraft. The government of Canada condemns Russia’s aggressive actions and we will continue to take action to stand with Ukraine.”
The announcement followed similar moves by most European countries, led by Britain, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, as the western world has sought to punish Russia for launching Europe’s largest war since the Second World War.
In a tit-for-tat response, Russia has previously banned commercial flights from those countries that have closed their airspace.
While Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot does not fly direct to Canada, it does operate multiple flights per day through Canadian airspace en route to the U.S. and beyond. Experts have said closing Canadian airspace would negatively impact those routes.
The closure of Canadian airspace to Russian aircraft is only the latest in a growing list of sanctions and retaliatory measures launched against Russia since Putin first ordered troops into Ukraine early last week.
The government has so far levelled sanctions against the Russian president along with dozens of other senior political and business leaders, as well as a number of Russian banks and defence firms.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced in a joint statement with U.S. President Joe Biden and several European leaders late Saturday that Canada and its allies were planning to kick some Russian banks out of the international financial system.
Japan announced on Sunday that it would follow suit.
Trudeau, Biden and the other European leaders also committed restricting the Russian central bank from using its international reserves, as they seek to isolate Russia and strangle its ability to pay for its war in Ukraine.