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Ukraine has officially closed its airspace to civilian flights on Thursday as Russian soldiers began invading the country.
According to Reuters.com, Ukraine State Air Traffic Services Enterprise announced the nation’s airspace was closed to civilian flights and air traffic services were suspended. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also said airspace within 100 nautical miles of Ukrainian borders could also pose safety risks to civilian flights.
Neighboring nations like Belarus and Moldova have closed their airspace as European aviation regulators issued a warning that civilian planes could be shot down over Ukraine.
“In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft,” EASA officials said in a statement. “The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a high risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels.”
The EASA also revealed the Russian defense ministry sent a warning to air traffic controllers in Ukraine about the imminent attack and asked them to stop all flights to avoid civilian casualties during the escalating violence.
Air traffic tracking websites showed no flight activity over Ukraine on Thursday morning, with commercial planes avoiding the airspace and creating crowded corridors to the north and west.
Russian officials also announced the country had suspended domestic flights to and from airports near the Ukrainian border, including Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar and Stavropol, until at least March 2.
Aviation officials in Britain, Canada, France, Italy, the United States and more issued warnings to their carriers to avoid airspace near the potential combat zone.