President Joe Biden plans to announce Tuesday night that the U.S. is banning Russian aircraft from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the decision.
The move follows similar action by Canada and the European Union this week. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden’s State of the Union speech in advance.
In remarks released by the White House in advance of the speech, Biden offered an ominous warning that without consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression wouldn’t be contained to Ukraine.
“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson — when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden said. “They keep moving. And the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising.”
The ban would come on top of a wide range of sanctions the U.S., Europe and other nations have imposed on Russia that are expected to hammer that nation’s economy.
On Sunday, the EU and Canada announced they were closing their airspace to Russian airlines and private planes owned by wealthy Russians.
The Canadian ban led Russia’s largest airline, Aeroflot, on Monday to say that it had suspended flights to New York, Washington, Miami and Los Angeles through Wednesday.
The U.S. ban raises the possibility that Russia could respond by prohibiting U.S. flights over its territory, which would make for longer and more costly flights, especially for cargo carriers. FedEx and UPS both fly over Russia, although they announced this weekend that they were suspending deliveries to that country.
No U.S. airlines fly to Russia, though a few flights to India pass through Russian airspace. American Airlines routes its lone flight between Delhi and New York to avoid Russian airspace, which adds miles to the trip and means that the flight often requires a refueling stop in Bangor, Maine, on westbound flights.
Russia also has an interest in preserving overflights by U.S. carriers. Aviation experts say Russia derives a sizable amount of money from fees that it levies to use its airspace or land at its airports.
European airlines fly over Russia far more often than their U.S. counterparts. Before the war, about 600 flights to or from Europe passed through Russian airspace, according to aviation data firm Cirium.
A ban on Russian flights could also lead to retaliation against Boeing, a major U.S. exporter and one of the world’s two dominant aircraft manufacturers.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.