Major European airline stops flights to Kiev
Lufthansa will suspend all flights to and from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev for one week, the German airline has announced. The move comes amid growing tensions between Russia and the West, and reports of shelling from both sides of the contact line in the Donbass.
The airline did not elaborate on the reason for its decision, but wrote in a statement released on Saturday that it is “constantly monitoring the situation and will decide on further flights at a later date.” Flights will be suspended to and from Kiev between February 21 and February 28.
Passengers whose flights have been canceled due to the decision can contact the Lufthansa Service Center or a relevant travel agency, the airline said.
In addition to Kiev, Lufthansa also flies to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and the Black Sea port of Odessa. It has not announced any changes affecting these two destinations, however.
Dutch airline KLM became the first airline to indefinitely cancel flights to Ukraine last week.
The announcement comes just a day after an influential Washington-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, warned that Russia may invade Ukraine as early as Saturday. The lobby group, which enjoys the support of US military industry giants including Raytheon and General Dynamics, claimed that Russia could take advantage of Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky’s trip to the Munich Security Conference.
On Friday, the US President Joe Biden said he was “convinced” Russia might invade Ukraine “in the coming days.” Moscow has repeatedly denied planning any military actions against Ukraine. It has also mocked what it called “failed” western “propaganda” after numerous western media outlets reported that an invasion would take place on Wednesday, February 16.
Meanwhile, the two self-proclaimed republics in Eastern Ukraine have announced massive evacuation of people to Russian territory, claiming the security situation is worsening. Kiev has denied its troops are planning an offensive in the region, but Donbass leaders have mobilized their forces and called on all able-bodied men to be prepared to fight. The development has prompted a neighboring Russian border region to declare a state of emergency.