Albania closes airspace to Russia, imposes sanctions

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Albania has also placed sanctions on Russia, according to Albanian Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Olta Xhaçka.

“All Russian air operators are prohibited from operating in Albanian airspace as of today.  Until the conclusion of the occupation, Albania will not participate in any sporting competitions with the Russian Federation”,  Xhacka stated, “We are working to deliver military and helath supplies to help Ukraine.”

In a statement to the media, the Minister announced that Albania plays a critical role in the situation with Ukraine.

Press release of the Albanian Minister Olta Xhaçka

“I cannot recall another event that united the people of a democratic Europe in indignation, solidarity, but also determination, more than Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful aggression on Ukraine.

I believe I am expressing the sentiments of many Albanians today when I say that the brave resistance of the Ukrainian people to this attack has earned our respect and admiration.

The war in Ukraine is much more than a struggle for Ukraine’s independence. It is a struggle for the future of a democratic Europe, for the security and cooperation architecture on our continent, and for the destiny of the international system.

Let us state it plainly and unequivocally since this is the stance of Albania and the Albanian people: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is unprovoked. This is not a defensive war, and it is not being fought in the name of the Russian people or Russia’s legitimate security interests.

This is blatant aggression, an unlawful and criminal war against a country and an innocent people who have never endangered Russia and whose sole transgression has been the ambition to construct a modern and democratic state in Europe based on a model that the Russian regime doesn’t like.

Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership bear the sole responsibility for this war. I believe you have seen and observed in the media the reactions of our ally countries to measures and sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine during the last few days.

We are glad that Albania is not only playing a significant role, but also making a direct contribution, particularly in the field of diplomacy, in this dramatic and epochal battle of our time.

From the OSCE and NATO, where our ideas have been concrete and bold, to the UN Security Council, where our country is playing a leading role in resolving the Ukraine crisis in collaboration with the US Mission.

Recently, our country introduced a resolution in the Security Council, together with the US, calling on Russia to halt its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all its troops from the country, compelling Russia to exercise its veto and demonstrating quite clearly to the world how isolated Russia is in this criminal venture against a sovereign state.

Today, the Security Council will vote to send this resolution to the General Assembly for discussion, demonstrating once again Russia’s tremendous isolation in the international arena.

Albania has also, without any hesitation, joined the austerity measures taken by the EU against Russia.

Albania’s government is now creating the legal framework for the implementation of austerity measures against Russia and its enterprises, authorized by the European Union Council on February 23–25, 2022. These include both individual and economic measures.

We have joined the individual sanctions freezing the assets of individuals ranging from the Russian President, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, members of the Russian Federation’s National Security Council, and members of the Russian State Duma who supported Russia’s immediate recognition of the two areas controlled by non-governmental organizations in Donetsk and Luhansk as independent entities, as well as members of the Russian State Duma who ratified the Russian government decision regarding the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Fedeeration and these two entities.

These restrictive measures will affect 654 individuals and 52 entities in total. Additionally, a travel ban has been enforced on Albanian territory for the individuals listed by the EU, and we are considering the termination of visa facilitation programs for diplomats, other Russian officials, and business people.

Economic sanctions cover financial, energy, transportation, and technology sectors.

The Energy Sector will prohibit the sale, supply, transfer, or export of particular goods and technologies for oil refining to Russia and will impose limits on the provision of associated services.

The Transport Sector will prohibit exports of goods and technology to the aviation and aerospace industries, as well as the supply of security, reinsurance, and maintenance services relating to such commodities and technology. Additionally, the provision of relevant technical and financial help will be forbidden.

The technology industry would face new restrictions on dual-use goods and technology exports, as well as prohibitions on exports of certain commodities and technology that could help Russia boost its defense and security capabilities. This will contain semiconductors and cutting-edge technologies.

Additionally to these measures, and in light of the unprecedented situation created by the European Union’s actions, the airspace of the Republic of Albania’s will be closed to all Russian air operators and aircraft registered in Russia beginning tonight, except for flights conducted for emergency, humanitarian, or medical purposes or needs. 

Additionally, Albania will refrain from all sporting confrontations with the Russian Federation until the occupation of Ukraine comes to an end.

Finally, we are working to aid Ukraine with military and healthcare supplies, among other things, within our resources.

We will have additional information to share with you in the coming days regarding the implementation of these measures. While I want to highlight that Albania will continue to support our friends’ and partners’ initiatives and measures. This is a responsibility that every democratic country today bears not only toward Ukraine, but also toward our peoples’ societies and the future of our children.