Europe

Kiev bans Russian airlines flights

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Ukrainian officials have banned Russian airlines from flying in the eastern parts of the country which have been controlled by pro-Russian forces in the past few months.

“Flights are banned for Russian companies to [the eastern Ukrainian cities of] Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk for safety reasons,” Denis Antoniuk, the head of the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine, said on Saturday.

Antoniuk added that Ukrainian airline Dniproavia has also been affected by the open-ended ban.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow activists and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence pro-Russia protests in mid-April.

Violence intensified in May after the two flashpoint regions of Donetsk and Luhansk held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian authorities and the West have accused Moscow of having a hand in the crisis and supporting pro-Moscow protesters in eastern Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly rejected the allegation.

According to the latest figures by the United Nations, more than 4,000 people have been killed and over 9,300 others injured in the fighting. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.

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