KIEV (Dispatches) – Adviser to Ukrainian president’s chief of staff Mikhail Podolyak announced on Sunday Ukraine sees no point in closing the country’s air space.
“The most important point is that Ukraine itself sees no point in closing the sky. This is nonsense. And, in my opinion, it somewhat resembles a kind of partial blockade,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
Earlier, Ukrainian lawmaker Aleksey Goncharenko reported that air service over Ukraine would most likely be suspended on Monday, adding that the owners of leased planes were already forbidding their aircraft to enter Ukraine’s air space.
On Saturday, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has suspended flights to Ukraine as well as all the flights in its air space. Ukraine’s SkyUP airlines reported on Sunday that its plane traveling from Portugal was forced to land in Chisinau instead of Kiev on Saturday, since the Irish company that owns the aircraft informed it of a ban on entering Ukrainian air space.
Lately, Ukraine and the West have been increasingly echoing claims of an alleged possible Russian “invasion” of Ukraine ever more frequently. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov branded such information as an “empty and groundless” escalation of tensions, emphasizing that Russia does not pose a threat to anyone. That said, he didn’t exclude the possibility of provocations being whipped up in order to justify such claims and warned that attempts to resolve the problem in southeastern Ukraine through the use of force would have the most serious consequences.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry has handed a protest note to the American military attaché in Moscow after a U.S. submarine was spotted near the Kuril Islands where a Russian fleet was engaged in naval drills.
“On February 12, a representative of the U.S. embassy’s military attaché office for defense issues was handed over a note at the Russian defense ministry’s main directorate of international military cooperation in Moscow in relation to the violation of Russia’s state border by a U.S. navy submarine,” the ministry stated on Saturday as quoted in report by Sputnik News.
The report further cited the ministry as adding that the American sub’s provocative behavior posed a threat to Russian security, insisting that Russia reserves the right to use any means necessary to ensure the country’s security in its territorial waters.
It further warned that the U.S. must prevent reoccurrence of such incidents in the future.
The American submarine, the ministry explained, initially ignored warnings by Russian Marshall Shaposhnikov frigate – communicated in both Russian and English -- to immediately come up to the surface.
However, it quickly left the area when confronted by “relevant methods” used by the crew of the Russian warship in line with the guidance for underwater protection of national borders, the ministry added.
The development coincided with yet another threat communicated by U.S. President Joe Biden to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a video call on Saturday, reiterating that Washington and its allies would respond “decisively” if Russia invades Ukraine.
Biden’s repeated threat came amid Moscow’s continued warnings that allegations of a Russian invasion of Ukraine were merely a U.S.-led anti-Russia propaganda aimed at provoking a conflict.