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Sweden prepares to shut airspace to Russian planes

Sweden is preparing to quickly close Swedish airspace to Russian flights, Swedish EU Minister Hans Dahlgren said on Sunday.

Sweden prepares to shut airspace to Russian planes
The Russian presidential plane Iljuschin Il-96. More EU countries are moving to ban Russian aircraft from its airspace. (Photo by ALESSANDRO DELLA VALLE / POOL / AFP)

“It is now absolutely necessary to proceed with further tough measures to isolate Russia,” Dahlgren told public service radio SR.

The Minister said the most effective course of action would be for EU countries to make a joint decision.

Sweden will push for such a flight ban at a meeting of EU foreign ministers scheduled later today, which could form part of the latest package of sanctions against Russia.

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: How could Russia’s war in Ukraine affect Sweden?

Many EU member states have already closed their airspaces to Russian aircraft, while a more concrete decision could soon follow.

“We want this to happen as quickly as possible and the best and fastest way is if we can get a common EU decision,” said Dahlgren.

“The background is, of course, that we want to go ahead with even more and sharper efforts to isolate Russia. One such effort is to close Swedish airspace and, better still, the whole of European airspace to Russian flights,” he went on to say.

“At the same time, preparations are underway in Sweden to be able to take a decision as quickly as possible that would ban Russian flights over Swedish territory.

“Some formalities are required, but it could be as quickly as a few hours or a day at the most,” he added.

Dahlgren is convinced that many countries will close their airspace.

“I think there will be a lot of support for this,” the EU Minister claimed.

Denmark, Germany and Italy on Sunday also said it would close their airspace to Russian planes, joining other European countries in ramping up sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

In addition, Finland, Britain, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Romania are among the nations who have decided to shut off their airspaces to Russia’s aircraft.

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MILITARY

Macron urges Turkey to respect Finland, Sweden NATO choice

French President Emmanuel Macron asked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to "respect the sovereign choice" of Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

Macron urges Turkey to respect Finland, Sweden NATO choice

He was hoping to avoid Ankara vetoing their requests to join the trans-Atlantic defence pact.

Turkey warned Wednesday that the NATO accession process for Sweden and Finland would not move forward unless they addressed Ankara’s security concerns, a reference to their supposed sympathy toward Kurdish militant groups.

“The president underscored the need to respect the sovereign choice of these two countries, which emerged from a democratic process and in reaction to the changes in their security environment,” Macron’s office said after a telephone call with Erdogan.

“He said he hoped the discussions would continue to find a solution quickly,” his office added.

Stockholm and Helsinki submitted their bids to join NATO last week, reversing decades of military non-alignment, after political and public support for membership soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Turkey, a NATO member, is throwing a spanner in the works as any membership must be unanimously approved by all alliance members.

Ankara accuses Stockholm in particular of providing a haven for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Erdogan is also weighing a new military operation in northern Syria aimed at crushing Syrian Kurdish fighters who assisted the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group.

Such an incursion risks creating new tensions between Ankara and other NATO members, with the US warning this week that its soldiers could be put in jeopardy.

During the call between Erdogan and Macron, the two leaders agreed to continue efforts to restart Ukraine grain exports now that Russian forces control most of the country’s ports, in order to avoid food shortages that threaten several developing countries.

But the Kremlin denied Monday any blame for the halted grain deliveries, and accused Western countries of preventing cargo vessels from leaving Ukrainian ports.

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