On Monday, as the EU moved toward the adoption of new sanctions targeting oil firms and debated how they might be lifted if the cease-fire in Ukraine holds, Russia hinted that it may respond by banning Western airlines from flying over its territory.
Blaming the West for damaging the Russian economy by triggering “stupid” sanctions, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would press on with measures to reduce reliance on imports, starting with increasing output of domestic aircraft.
Medvedev suggested Russia should have hit back harder over the action by the United States and European Union to punish Moscow for its role in Ukraine, saying it had been too patient in the worst confrontation with the West since the Cold War.
…”If Western carriers have to bypass our airspace, this could drive many struggling airlines into bankruptcy. This is not the way to go. We just hope our partners realise this at some point,” he said in the interview published on Monday.
Medvedev also noted that the sanctions have not managed to “bring calm to Ukraine.”
The most recent Russian effort to bring calm to Ukraine came on Sunday, two days after a cease-fire was signed by Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels, and took the form of the publication of Russia’s demands for a new Ukrainian political system. According to the New York Times, those demands included “a new constitution that would turn the country into a federation of largely autonomous regions and enshrine its ‘neutral military-political status’—precluding membership in NATO.”