Ukraine keeps airspace open amid ‘imminent’ Russian threat
Kiev, Feb 13 (EFE).- Ukraine on Sunday said its airspace would remain open as airlines reviewed their services to the eastern European nation amid warnings from the United States Russia could invade at any time.
On Sunday, Ukrainian carrier SkyUp was forced to divert one of its aircraft after the owner of the leased plane stopped the flight from entering Ukraine’s airspace.
On Saturday, Dutch carrier KLM said it was halting travel to Ukraine immediately following “the urgent travel alert” issued by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told the President of the European Council Charles Michel on Sunday that Ukraine’s “worst enemy was panic.”
“We are in favor of a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict,” Zelensky added.
The Ukrainian president added that “this did not start yesterday, this started in 2014, so we are ready.”
Ukrainian officials in recent days have been saying the country has witnessed these circumstances since 2014 when Russia invaded and later annexed the Crimean peninsula.
Zelensky is due to have a telephone meeting with United States President Joe Biden on Sunday to discuss the buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border, a day after Biden warned Russian leader Vladimir Putin of the “swift and severe costs” his country would incur if an invasion were to happen.
Spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said the meeting would focus on “the security situation and current diplomatic efforts to de-escalate.”
On Saturday the US announced it was pulling out most of its staff from its embassy in Ukraine after US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that a Russian invasion was imminent.
Biden warned Putin in a Saturday meeting that although the US was prepared to engage in a diplomatic route, it was equally set for different scenarios.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was re-elected Sunday for a five-year term, urged Putin in his acceptance speech to “remove the noose from Ukraine’s neck.”
“I can only warn (Putin) do not underestimate the strength of democracy,” Steinmeier added.
The president’s warning came as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz prepared to travel to Kiev on Monday in an attempt at a last-ditch appeal to dissuade Putin from further escalation. EFE