Two people who are familiar with this decision say that President Joe Biden intends to make Tuesday’s announcement that the U.S. will ban Russian aircraft in its airspace as a retaliation against the invasion of Ukraine.
This follows Canada’s and the European Union’s similar actions this week. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden’s State of the Union speech in advance.
In remarks released by the White House in advance of the speech, Biden offers an ominous warning that without consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression wouldn’t be contained to Ukraine.
“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson — when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden says. “They keep moving. And, the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising.”
The ban would come on top of a wide range of sanctions the U.S., Europe and other nations have imposed on Russia that are expected to hammer that nation’s economy.
Canada and the European Union announced on Sunday that they would close their airspace for Russian aircraft and wealthy Russians’ private planes.
The Canadian ban led Russia’s largest airline, Aeroflot, on Monday to say that it had suspended flights to New York, Washington, Miami and Los Angeles through Wednesday.
Russia might respond to U.S. flight bans by making U.S. air travel over Russia more difficult and costly, particularly for cargo carrier flights. FedEx and UPS fly over Russia. However, they have announced that they will suspend deliveries to Russia.
Although there are a few Indian flights that fly through Russian airspace, no U.S. airline has flown to Russia. American Airlines’ lone flight from Delhi to New York is routed by American Airlines. This allows American Airlines to bypass Russian airspace. It adds mileage to the journey and makes it necessary to stop at Bangor (Maine) for refuelling on westbound flights.
Russia is also interested in maintaining overflights of U.S. airlines. According to aviation experts, Russia earns a substantial amount from its fees for using its airspace and landing at its airports.
European airlines frequently fly over Russia than U.S.-based counterparts. According to Cirium, an aviation data company, around 600 flights from or to Europe used Russian airspace before the war.
A ban on Russian flights could also lead to retaliation against Boeing, a major U.S. exporter and one of the world’s two dominant aircraft manufacturers.
There is widespread belief that Russia and China talk to one another about foreign policy. The rise in tension between the West and Moscow makes it less likely that China will soon reauthorize flights by Boeing’s 737 Max jetliner, said George Ferguson, an aerospace analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.
China was the biggest market for the Max before it was grounded following two fatal crashes, and neither China nor Russia has yet approved the plane’s return. A delay in their approving the Max will reduce Boeing’s expected aircraft deliveries, an important source of cash for the Chicago-based company, Ferguson said.
This report was contributed by Frank Jordans, Berlin and Daria Litvinova from Moscow of the Associated Press.