Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) has extended the suspension of operations at 10 airports in the south-west of the country and at one airport in Russia-annexed Crimea until at least 03:45 MSK on September 28. Affected facilities include Anapa Airport ( AAQ), Belgorod International Airport (EGO), Bryansk International Airport (BZK), Elista International Airport (ESL), Gelendzhik Airport (GDZ), Krasnodar International Airport (KRR), Kursk Vostochny Airport ( URS), Lipetsk Airport (LPK), Rostov on Don Airport (RVI) and Voronezh International Airport (VOZ) in Russia, in addition to Simferopol International Airport (SIP) in Russia-annexed Crimea. The measure was previously scheduled to expire on September 22.
The airspace of numerous countries remains closed to all Russian aircraft and flights. Russia has issued reciprocal bans from Russian airspace on airlines operated by these countries, including EU member states, the UK, Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. In addition, several airlines not necessarily affected by the national airspace closures have decided to partially or fully suspend their services in Russian airspace.
Authorities in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have banned Russian citizens holding Schengen tourist and work visas from entering their countries. Exceptions apply for humanitarian reasons as well as for dissidents, family members of EU citizens, holders of a residence permit, the movement of goods, diplomatic missions and transit to and from the Kaliningrad exclave.
The EU has announced a suspension of the EU-Russia Visa Facilitation Agreement; However, the bloc has dismissed calls from some nations for a total travel ban on Russian citizens to Europe.
Belarus partially closed its airspace, including the southern Brest region and the areas south of Asipovichi and Krichev in the Mogilev region. The EU has banned overflights of its airspace by Belarusian airlines, and numerous airlines are avoiding Belarusian airspace or have suspended overflights from Belarus. Finally, Ukrainian airspace remains closed to all commercial air traffic.
Travel restrictions for Russia
Russia recently expanded the list of EU officials banned from entering the country in response to EU sanctions and continued arms sales to Ukraine. The ban now includes unspecified senior EU military officials, senior law enforcement officials and representatives of European defense contractors involved in the supply of military equipment to Ukraine.
Russia has abolished the simplified visa procedure for diplomats and journalists from the EU, Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Holders of diplomatic passports from these countries must apply for a visa to enter Russia.
Several governments, including those of the US, France, the UK, Australia and Canada, have issued travel advisories, urging their nationals to avoid traveling to Russia and those within that country to leave by commercial means when safe to do so .
Increased security and general disruption
Regional authorities in Russia have imposed a “high” (yellow) terror threat level in regions bordering Ukraine, including Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk oblasts, as well as in the Russian-annexed city of Sevastopol. The Yellow Terrorist Threat is the middle level on a three-level scale, with Elevated (blue) being the lowest level and Critical (red) being the highest. Authorities have offered no official justifications for the high terror threat; However, Ukrainian saboteurs are believed to be active in border areas and several incidents could be attributed to them. In addition, cross-border artillery shelling occasionally hits border villages in Kursk and Bryansk oblasts, often in response to artillery fire from Russia. Authorities occasionally increase terror threats in other regions bordering Ukraine, including Voronezh and Rostov oblasts; However, no terror threat alerts are currently active in these regions.
Several countries bordering Ukraine, Belarus and Russia have taken increased security precautions. Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia and Lithuania have declared states of emergency. Nevertheless, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland are keeping their borders with Ukraine open and taking in refugees.
Ukraine has closed its border crossings with Belarus, Russia and Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria to foreign nationals; However, Ukrainian citizens are allowed to return.
Since late April, authorities in Moldova have tightened security nationwide following a series of security incidents, including explosions and shootings, in the Transnistria region.
As part of the seventh package of sanctions, EU authorities have banned the purchase, import or transfer of Russian gold. The package of sanctions also targets 54 Russian nationals and 10 Russian companies, including Sberbank. Restrictions on doing business also affect Russian-owned companies based outside of Russia. However, third countries can transfer funds to Russian entities for the purchase of oil, medicines, environmental and agricultural products. In addition, the EU has also lifted a ban on European companies from supplying goods, services and technology to the Russian aviation sector.
The EU previously agreed to ban 90 percent of Russian oil imports by the end of 2022. The ban targets oil delivered by tankers; Russia’s Druzhba pipeline continues to transport oil to Hungary and Slovakia. The Czech Republic, also supplied by the Druzhba pipeline, has refused to pay for Russian oil.
Apart from government sanctions, hundreds of companies have suspended or closed their operations in Russia. Financial service providers, including PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Western Union, have suspended operations in the country. American Express and Western Union have also suspended all operations in Belarus.
Additionally, several governments have expelled scores of Russian diplomats for a variety of reasons, including espionage and other national security concerns. Moscow usually retaliates in a similar way. Most recently, Russian authorities expanded the list of so-called “unfriendly nations” that have joined sanctions against Moscow and are considered hostile. Such “tit-for-tat” measures may reduce the available consular services in each country, although core services are likely to be maintained while diplomatic missions remain open.
Russia has stopped natural gas supplies to Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland and Bulgaria. The move came in response to those governments’ refusal to accept the Kremlin’s demand that so-called “unfriendly nations” pay for petrol in rubles. The Russian authorities could decide to limit or stop further natural gas supplies to other European countries in the coming weeks.
The Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine (GTSOU) has halted gas transit through the Sokhranivka gas metering station and the Novopskov gas compressor station, both located in Russian-occupied territories. As a result, the volume of Russian gas shipped to Europe via Ukraine has fallen by around a third.
A United Nations-backed agreement between Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, signed in Istanbul on July 22, ensures safe passage for grain shipments from Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhne to a checkpoint near Istanbul. The Ukrainian authorities have published the coordinates of the “blue corridor”. The Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Turkey monitors and implements this agreement, which is valid for 120 days from the date of signing and is then renewed by default.
The International Maritime Organization has issued advisories regarding the continuing threat to shipping from floating sea mines, particularly in the north-west, west and south-west sectors of the Black Sea. Such mines were discovered in the coastal waters of Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. These three countries have competent naval ordnance disposal teams that typically tow mines to low-traffic areas for safe destruction.
Civilian ships generally cannot operate in the northern Black Sea or the Sea of Azov. Several civilian ships were damaged in the region in the first weeks of the conflict, including two ships that were sunk, and Russian naval forces are said to have detained at least three others. International sanctions ban Russian and Russian-operated ships from accessing EU, US and UK ports.
In response to the international response to the Kremlin invasion of Ukraine, increased anti-Western sentiment is possible in Russia and Belarus. While there is currently no heightened direct security threat to Western or other foreign nationals in Russia or Belarus, isolated incidents of low-level harassment are possible. A potential surge in anti-Western sentiment could also lead to increased scrutiny, harassment, or coercion of foreign nationals by border guards, police, and other officials.
Confirm flight status with airlines; do not check out of the accommodation until onward travel is confirmed. Avoid unnecessary trips to affected border regions. Follow the instructions of the authorities; Remain calm and cooperative when questioned by law enforcement officers or other officials. Carry proper identification with you, including a passport with a valid Russian or Belarusian visa if required. Prepare for card payment disruptions in Russia. Make sure alternative payment methods are available. Refrain from discussing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine or any other politically sensitive issue, even on social media.
European Union Agency for Aviation Safety
French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs
Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media
UK travel advice Russia