Cyprus has shot itself in the foot with flight ban - Russian ambassador

Cyprus has “shot itself in the foot” by joining the EU’s ban on Russian aircraft into the bloc’s airspace, the Russian ambassador stated on Monday amid concerns from the tourism industry.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Sunday said that Cyprus joined the bloc’s unified flight ban but reserved the right to review the policy should Turkey not join in on the ban – with fears that Turkey would “instrumentalise” the move, potentially sending Russian tourists to the north of Cyprus.

Russian ambassador to Cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy addressed Cyprus’ concerns in no uncertain terms, saying: “Where will Cyprus get its Russian tourists from? They won’t come, where will they go – to Turkey, is that what you want?

“For them to go spend their money over there [Turkey]? Summer is coming up, you’ve closed your airspace – you shot yourselves in the foot,” he said, adding that Russia had not wished this to happen.

In retaliation to the EU ban on Russian flights, Russia on Monday closed its airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including Cyprus and the 26 other members of the European Union.

With the EU ban effective immediately, three flights from Moscow to Larnaca airport were cancelled on Monday, with a departure from Larnaca to Moscow also slashed, while Paphos airport saw two Russia-linked flights being cancelled.

The unprecedented prohibition seeks to pressure President Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

Asked about the growing international sanctions on Russia, Osadchiy replied: “If you’re asking me personally, we’re not worried – unfortunately, I think the Europeans are shooting themselves in the foot: where will they procure their natural gas, oil, wheat?”

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