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How to shut down the Crimean airspace for the Russian aviation?


Arseniy Herasymiv, attorney at law, Ilyashev & Partners
Source: The Dielovaia Stolitsa

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has officially confirmed that airspace over Crimea belongs to Ukraine, while denying information of the Russian mass media on alleged negotiations with the official Moscow on passing to the latter control over the airspace over the peninsula. Nevertheless, Russian airlines continue to fly to the Crimea.

Statement of the ICAO that airspace over Crimea belongs to Ukraine is fully consistent with the spirit and content of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. It says: every state has complete and exclusive jurisdiction over its airspace, and no annexation can change it. Aggressor must be put in such a position that the air space of the occupied territory cannot be used by civil aviation.

To retain control over the Crimean airspace, Ukraine may, e.g. apply financial sanctions to the airlines flying to Crimea from Russia. If fines are not paid, their aircraft may be arrested. In addition, such airlines can be banned from international traffic worldwide. Sure, such measures cannot be taken immediately. They are preceded by gathering evidence, consultations with international organizations. To the best of my knowledge, currently the State Aviation Service of Ukraine detects violations of Russian airlines and prepares a statement to the ICAO Council to resolve the dispute.

Further, Ukraine is taking measures without waiting for the response of international organizations. According to information posted on the resource Aviation Explorer, on July 11 management of Russian airlines “Ak Bars Aero” received from the Ukrainian aviation authorities a notification about violation of Ukrainian airspace use rules in connection with flights to Crimea. The telegram states that requests of “Ak Bars Aero” for flights to and through the territory of Ukraine will be rejected.

Ukraine actually has a wide range of measures available, so it will depend solely on the activity of the Ukrainian government. For us, experience of North Cyprus may be useful. After the occupation of Turkish troops, the Republic tried to launch international flights to Great Britain and Germany. However, after the Republic of Cyprus applied to the International Civil Aviation Organization the threat of sanctions to airlines made international flights to the occupied part of Cyprus impossible. Sure, we can hardly expect a complete cessation of air traffic between mainland Russian Federation and the Crimea. Presumably, the flights to the peninsula will be carried out by the local Russian airlines that do not carry out international flights, so they cannot fall under the sanctions. This is exactly what the Republic of Northern Cyprus together with Turkey did in due time.

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