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Russia Considers Blocking Western Aircraft Over Its Airspace, But At What Price?

September 14, 2014 - The United States remains steadfast in its position against Russian efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine. On Friday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury added additional sanctions against Russia's largest bank (Sberbank), energy and defense sectors.

The most hard hit was Russia's exportation of goods, services and technology for oil drilling. The E.U. has as well placed sanctions against Russia's energy and defense sectors and have also included travel bans.

Western leaders indicated further sanctions will take place as long as Russia sends weapons and troops into Ukraine to bolster separatist forces fighting the Ukrainian army.

On Monday Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev indicated that Moscow may ban Western airlines from flying over its airspace. "If there are sanctions related to energy, further limits for our financial sector we will have to respond...... We proceed from the fact that we have friendly relations with our partners and that is why the sky over Russia is open for flights."

"But if they put limits on us we will have to respond," Medvedev further stated that if Moscow were to take such an action it "could drive many struggling airlines into bankruptcy."

UK's Virgin Airlines' Richard Branson was asked how this would affect his airlines he said, "It would cost us quite a lot of money but it would actually cost Russia more money. They charge enormous amounts of money for the privilege of flying over Russia."

Branson further stated, "What is interesting is that the European Union to date have not charged Russian airlines anything for the privilege of flying over Europe. So I think Russia would lose a lot more than European airlines if they impose that."



President Barack Obama said, "We will deepen and broaden sanctions in Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors. These measures will increase Russia’s political isolation as well as the economic costs to Russia, especially in areas of importance to President Putin and those close to him."
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