Russia shuts airspace along western border with Ukraine, Belarus | News

The move comes after President Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ in the Donbas region.

Russia on Thursday announced the closure of its airspace for civilian flights on the western border with Ukraine and Belarus.

A Notice to Airmen or Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) was published after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in the Donbas region.

“The use of airspace on Russia’s western border with Ukraine and Belarus has been temporarily suspended due to the high threat to the safety of civilian aircraft flights after the use of weapons and military equipment,” a statement said.

In another statement on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was using “high-precision weapons” to disable air defense systems, military airports, and the air force in Ukraine.

INTERACTIVE- Ukraine Russia head-to-head(Al Jazeera)

On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin authorized “a special military operation” against Ukraine to eliminate what he called a serious threat, saying his aim was to demilitarize Russia’s southern neighbor.

In an early morning address on state television, Putin said he had been left with no choice but to launch the operation, the scope of which was not immediately clear but appeared to go well beyond helping Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“I have decided to conduct a special military operation,” Putin said, seated at a desk in the Kremlin next to a battery of telephones, with the Russian flag behind him.

“Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide… for the last eight years. And for this, we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.

“And to bring to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.”

Ukraine dismisses as invented Russian accusations of genocide against people living in parts of its east seized by Russian-backed separatists in 2014.

Kyiv has said Putin was looking for an artificial pretext to attack it.

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