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Ukraine Rejects Talks With Russia Over Flight Ban

  • Reuters

FILE - A plane belonging to Russia's S7 airlines prepares to depart for Moscow's Domodedovo airport from Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 24, 2015. Direct flights between the countries were halted Sunday, and Kyiv has refused an offer to talk about resuming them.

FILE - A plane belonging to Russia's S7 airlines prepares to depart for Moscow's Domodedovo airport from Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 24, 2015. Direct flights between the countries were halted Sunday, and Kyiv has refused an offer to talk about resuming them.

Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia said on Thursday it had proposed to Ukraine's aviation authorities further talks on resuming flights between the two countries, but Kyiv swiftly turned down the offer.

Direct air services between the one-time allies ceased on Sunday, a new low in commercial relations between the two neighbors. They’ve been in a bitter standoff since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 following a pro-Europe street uprising in Kyiv.

As of Sunday, Kyiv banned incoming flights by Russian airlines, including flagship carrier Aeroflot, to punish them for flying to Crimea. Moscow criticized the move as "another act of madness" and responded by closing Russian airspace to Ukrainian airlines.

Rosaviatsia said in a statement on Thursday that it had proposed "continuing the dialogue with the aim of quickly resuming air links between Russian and Ukraine." The termination of flights, it said, was pushing up costs for passengers.

A spokesman for Ukraine's infrastructure ministry confirmed receipt of a letter from Rosaviatsia, but said negotiations could only start "if Russia pays existing fines and stops flying to restricted areas, principally Crimea."

The fines were imposed on Russia for violating airspace over Crimea.

Approximately 657,000 passengers flew between Russia and Ukraine in the first half of 2015. The loss of ticket sales will affect the bottom lines of both countries' airlines, some of which have already posted losses for parts of this year.

Earlier this week, people familiar with the matter said flights were unlikely to resume soon.

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