Biden announces closure of US airspace to Russian aircraft during State of the Union

The US joins Europe and Canada in banning Russian airlines in the country’s airspace

Justin Vallejo
New York
Wednesday 02 March 2022 03:36
Comments
Biden announces closing of US airspace to Russia planes

Joe Biden has announced the closure of US airspace to Russian aircraft during his State of the Union address.

The move, which follows European allies, has been considered for several days and was revealed after discussions with US airlines on the possible repercussions.

The president said the US would also join its European allies in pursuing oligarchs and seizing their wealth.

Follow all the State of the Union news and reaction

“We will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding additional squeeze on their economy,” President Biden said.

In a moment ad libbed to the speech he said: “He has no idea what’s coming.”

It comes after similar prohibitions to Russian aircraft by European and Canadian authorities. Russia retaliated with restrictions over its airspace.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, warned about retaliation from Russia when asked at Monday’s press briefing whether the US was considering a ban on Russian aircraft over the US.

"No option is off the table," Ms Psaki said. "I would note that there are a lot of flights, US airlines, that fly over Russia to go to Asia and other parts of the world and we factor in a range of factors.”

United Airlines and United Parcel Service on Tuesday joined other major carriers Delta Air Lines and American Airlines in announcing the suspension of flights over Russian airspace.

It came after White House officials privately asked airlines if a ban on Russian flights in US airspace would harm supply chains or have other negative impacts, sources told Reuters.

US citizens were advised last week to leave Russia as soon as possible due an increasing number of airlines cancelling flights into and out of Russia.

“Numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines,” the US embassy alert stated. “US citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available.”

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