President Joe Biden finally declared during his State of the Union speech that he would follow the British government, Canada, and the European Union in barring Russian jets from U.S. airspace.
Biden said the airspace block would be an “additional squeeze” on Russia’s economy as he announced a host of fresh measures aimed at increasing pressure on Vladimir Putin to remove his troops from Ukraine.
“Tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American air space to all Russian flights – further isolating Russia – and adding an additional squeeze –on their economy,” Biden told Congress.
“The Ruble has lost 30% of its value. The Russian stock market has lost 40% of its value and trading remains suspended. Russia’s economy is reeling and Putin alone is to blame.”
“Together with our allies, we are providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. Military assistance. Economic assistance. Humanitarian assistance.”
Last Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first foreign leader to declare an airspace ban on Russian jets, and Moscow quickly responded by declaring a reciprocal airspace ban.
Similar airspace prohibitions were imposed by European nations and the Canadian government over the weekend, prompting in tit-for-tat measures from the Russian government.
However, as of Monday, United Airlines was the only American airline currently flying through Russian territory.
United announced it would stop flying over Russian airspace by Tuesday evening. The airline uses Russian airspace to fly to India, but critics have accused it of aiding in the funding of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine because it needs to pay Russia to overfly its airspace.
The airline announced in an internal memo that it will temporarily halt operations between San Francisco and Delhi, as well as between Newark and Mumbai, since flying via Russian territory would take too long.
The airline informed employees that it was considering various possibilities for these “special routes.”
Over the previous two days, Russian flag airline Aeroflot has asked for special authorization to operate ‘humanitarian’ flights to rescue stranded Russian people in airspace where it is officially prohibited.