Biden bans Russian aircraft from US airspace

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden officially closed U.S. airspace to Russian aircraft in response to the country’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

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“Tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding an additional squeeze on their economy,” Biden said during his first State of the Union address Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.

As Biden spoke, Russian forces were escalating their attacks in Ukraine, having bombarded the central square of country’s second-biggest city earlier in the day and Kyiv’s main TV tower, killing at least five people. The Babi Yar Holocaust memorial was also damaged.

Biden said the ban will further isolate Russia and strain its economy, noting that the Russian ruble and stock market have already plunged 30% and 40%, respectively.

He then asked the American people “to draw inspiration from the iron will of the Ukrainian people.”

“Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian people,” Biden said.

The United States joins Canada and the European Union in closing off its airspace to Russian aircraft, CNN reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, reciprocal flight bans instituted by Russia have disrupted global aviation networks, forcing airlines to cancel some flights and re-route others far from their original flight paths.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration said orders blocking Russian aircraft and airlines from entering and using all U.S. airspace are slated to take effect by the end of Wednesday, The Guardian reported.

Specifically, the orders suspend operations of all aircraft owned, certified, operated, registered, chartered, leased, or controlled by, for, or for the benefit of, any Russia citizen.

This includes passenger and cargo flights, and scheduled as well as charter flights that will “effectively closing US air space to all Russian commercial air carriers and other Russian civil aircraft,” the department said.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.