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Russia can reply symmetrically if Ukraine closes airspace to planes

Russia's Federal Agency for Air Transportation said it would reply symmetrically if Ukraine closes its airspace to Russian planes.

"If the practice of bans on Russian flights to Simferopol in Ukraine's airspace continues, Russia will respond symmetrically," the Agency's official said.

Russia has so far not taken any measures but may do so following the incident with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin's plane from Moscow to Chisinau and back to Moscow on May 9.

"Ukrainian interceptor aircraft forced our plane to make a U-turn," Rogozin wrote in his Twitter account.

The plane, Yak-42 of the RUSJET airline, tail number 9602, flew out of Chisinau, entered Ukraine's airspace, flew several kilometres into it, made a U-turn and flew back to Chisinau, according to the Flightradar-24 air traffic monitoring system.

"Romania has closed its airspace for my plane on US demand. Ukraine is not letting us through again," Rogozin said and stressed, however, that he was not going to cancel trips to Transdniestria. "Next time I will fly by Tupolev-160 (strategic bomber)," he said.

Plane's turn can influence on economic cooperation with Moldova

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has asked Dmitry Rogozin to consider a response to the detention of a Russian plane carrying a Russian official delegation.

"Please discuss with the Foreign Ministry what kind of measures can be taken in order to prevent such incidents in the future," Medvedev told Rogozin at a meeting with deputy prime ministers on Monday.

Medvedev said that Russia would bear in mind the May 9 incident involving a Russian plane carrying an official delegation in shaping further cooperation with that country.

"We shall take this into account in considering economic cooperation with the republic of Moldova," Medvedev said.

Rogozin said at the conference that before the Russian plane with an official Russian delegation on board had entered Moldovan airspace on May 9 the diplomatic etiquette had been fully observed.

Medvedev asked if the Moldovan side had been informed about the flight.

"Naturally," Rogozin replied. "In accordance with the diplomatic rules and etiquette the Moldovan side had been informed and Russia's ambassador in Moldova had visited the Moldovan Foreign Ministry personally. There had been no surprises on our side.

Crimea airspace

Ukraine closed its airspace for flights to and from Crimea and landings in Sevastopol since the peninsula's accession to Russia in March of this year. The airspace over Crimea is now controlled by Russia and its aviation authorities.

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, who was in Transdniestria as a member of the government delegation, told ITAR-TASS by phone that "at first Ukraine allowed us to fly through its airspace but then the pilot was ordered to leave it. Otherwise, he was threatened to be forced to land. This is a gross violation of international law and complete ignorance of law," the minister said.

Slutsky said "Ukraine did not explain the reason. Our guess is that there are key Russian politicians aboard. But there have been no official explanations".

His colleague Alexei Zhuravlev said the authorities had explained their actions by the fact that there are persons aboard the plane who have been prohibited from entering the European Union, he said. "They are trying to block our departure from Moldova by all means and so far have given no clear explanations because entering a country and flying over it are different things," the MP said.

The delegation led by Rogozin was in Transdniestria to participate in celebrations marking the 69th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 12May14]

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