Online flight radar image shows empty Ukrainian airspace amid Russian invasion

Image released by various online flight radar websites shows the skies of Ukraine were empty of commercial & civil aircraft before the Russian invasion.


                            Online flight radar image shows empty Ukrainian airspace amid Russian invasion
Image released by various online flight radar websites shows the skies of Ukraine were empty of commercial & civil aircraft before the Russian invasion. (Photo by @AcesAviationBkk/Twitter)
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Flightradar image showed empty airspace of Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. On Thursday, February 24, Ukraine banned its airspace to civilian planes, claiming a significant risk of safety, while Europe's aviation body warned of the dangers of flying near Russia and Belarus due to military activity. In what looked to be the start of a European war, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a military intervention in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine State Air Traffic Services Enterprise said on its website that the country's airspace will be blocked to civilian planes starting at 0045 GMT on Thursday and that air traffic services would be discontinued. 

Airspace in Russia and Belarus within 100 nautical miles of their Ukrainian borders, according to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), might pose a safety concern. According to the Independent UK, in a conflict zone advisory, the agency stated, "In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft. The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems pose a high risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels." Since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014, the aviation industry has been more aware of the dangers that conflicts bring to civil aviation. 

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Websites that had shown intelligence-gathering flights over or near Ukraine as the West deliberately showcased support by transmitting detectable signals in recent weeks showed empty space as aircraft left and Ukraine was declared a conflict zone. According to Reuters, an El Al airplane from Tel Aviv to Toronto did a rapid U-turn out of Ukraine's airspace around the time of the shutdown. Around the same time, a LOT Polish Airlines flight from Warsaw to Kyiv returned to Warsaw. Russia's defense ministry issued Ukraine an urgent communication warning of severe danger to flight safety due to the use of weapons and military equipment and asked flights to be halted.

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Safe Airspace, which was established following the downing of MH17 to give safety and conflict zone information, had upgraded its danger rating over Ukraine to "do not fly​" just hours before. It also expressed concern about the possibility of a cyberattack on Ukraine's air traffic control system. Russia said on Thursday that domestic flights to and from numerous airports near the Ukrainian border, including Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, and Stavropol, had been stopped until March 2, Aljazeera reports

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Meanwhile, Russia has also blocked certain airspace in the Rostov area in order to provide safety for civil aviation operations. According to the Wall Street Journal, before Ukraine announced the airspace restrictions, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, and the United States had recommended their airlines to avoid particular airspace above eastern Ukraine and Crimea but had stopped short of imposing a complete ban. Lufthansa, a German airline, has banned flights to Ukraine, joining KLM in doing so. As Russia massed a massive military force on its border, two Ukrainian airlines had issues obtaining insurance for some flights, and international carriers began avoiding the country's airspace.

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Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.