Amid tensions over Belarus, Germany said that it blocked Russian airlines permission to use its airspace after Moscow failed to approve a Lufthansa flight to Russia. According to The Independent, Germany’s Transport Ministry said that the decision was based on the practice of reciprocal approval of flights and affected connections operated by Aeroflot and budget carrier S7. The ministry informed that Russia “unilaterally” suspended bilateral agreements on airline traffic between the two countries in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and flights since then have been approved reciprocally on a monthly basis.
However, the German Transport Ministry added that for Lufthansa flights, timely approval was not received from the Russian licensing authority FATA for the month of June. So Lufthansa flights that were scheduled to take place in the early meaning of June 2 had to be cancelled in the evening hours on June 1.
It said that due to the underlying “reciprocal practice”, the German Federal Aviation Authority also did not issue any further permits for flights of the Russian carriers as long as the permits were pending on the Russian side. The ministry even said that the German embassy in Moscow was in close exchange with Russian aviation authorities and as soon as the FATA approvals for Lufthansa flights were granted by the Russian side, the flights of Russian companies will also be approved.
The tit-for-tat decision comes amid the mounting tension between Russia and the European Union over Moscow’s support for Belarus. The EU and the US have already introduced fresh sanctions against Belarus after authorities there diverted an international flight to arrest a dissident journalist. Following the incident, the EU even blocked most flights to and over Belarus.
Russia, on the other hand, defended Belarus' use of military jet to divert passenger plane carrying the dissident. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov has said that the country treated the incident with an "absolutely reasonable approach". Lavrov asserted that Minsk was ready to act on the issue in a transparent manner and to follow all international rules. Calling upon western states to act in the same manner, the Russian lawmakers asked the global community to "soberly assess the situation".