Russia has lambasted Ukraine’s “unilateral decision” to carry out training launches of missiles over the Crimean Peninsula, saying Kiev’s military exercise will be a violation of Russia's sovereign airspace.
The Russian Defense Ministry expressed its formal protest against Kiev’s upcoming missile-firing exercises in an official diplomatic note presented to the Ukrainian military attaché on Friday after summoning him to the ministry in Moscow.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviatsia released a statement, saying that Kiev’s move is “in violation of all international agreements.” It added that the training launches had not been coordinated with Moscow, and would violate Russia’s sovereign airspace.
It further warned that the military drills would be conducted in regions where civil and state aviation flights run, adding that such unilateral decisions reveal Ukraine's reluctance to work on the normalization of air traffic above the Black Sea.
Rosaviatsia’s officials also said the Ukrainian authorities had informed them on Thursday about activating “dangerous zones” in all flight levels near Crimea and the city of Simferopol for December 1 and 2.
Sergei Izvolsky, the Russian aviation watchdog spokesman, said Moscow would ban flights over Crimea as long as Kiev persists on its missile-firing exercises.
“No flights will be performed in the banned areas, if Ukraine does not cancel its decision,” he added.
The new development can further escalate already tense tensions between the two countries. Relations between Moscow and Kiev worsened after the Crimean Peninsula rejoined Russia in a referendum in March 2014.
The ties deteriorated further after Kiev started a military crackdown in the two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, where there is a push for greater autonomy from Ukraine.
According to the United Nations, some 10,000 people have lost their lives and over 21,000 others have been injured in the conflict since April 2014.