Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Flights to Ukraine halted, redirected as crisis brews

MOSCOW (AP) – Some airlines have cancelled or diverted flights to Ukraine amid heightened fears that an invasion by Russia is imminent despite intensive weekend talks between the Kremlin and the West.

In an hour-long Saturday call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Joe Biden said that invading Ukraine would cause “widespread human suffering” and that the West was committed to diplomacy to end the crisis but “equally prepared for other scenarios”, the White House said. It offered no suggestion that the call diminished the threat of an imminent war in Europe.

The two presidents spoke a day after Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, warned that United States (US) intelligence shows a Russian invasion could begin within days.

Dutch airline KLM has cancelled flights to Ukraine until further notice, the company said
on Saturday.

Dutch sensitivity to potential danger in Ukrainian airspace is high in the wake of the 2014 shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over an area of eastern Ukraine held by Russia-backed rebels.

All 298 people aboard died, including 198 Dutch citizens.

The Ukrainian charter airline SkyUp said yesterday that its flight from Madeira, Portugal, to Kyiv was diverted to the Moldovan capital Chisinau after the plane’s Irish lessor said it was banning flights in Ukrainian airspace.

Ukrainian presidential spokesman Serhii Nykyforov told The Associated Press that Ukraine has not closed its airspace.

An instructor shows a woman how to use a Kalashnikov assault rifle in Ukraine. PHOTO: AP
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