Ukraine counts on NATO’s support in monitoring air traffic situation along the border with Russia and offers to use airspace near Simferopol region for NATO air operations, said the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure, Vladyslav Krykliy, during talks with NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning Patrick Turner.
The meeting took place as part of a working visit of the Ukrainian government delegation to Brussels.
"Ukraine is pursuing its chosen course of integration into Euro-Atlantic systems of collective security. One important area of this integration is Ukraine's participation in the NATO Air Situation Data Exchange program. In today's environment, it is important to strengthen the control of civil air traffic and to respond to crisis situations in the Black Sea area and the area of the Ukrainian Armed Forces operation in the Donbas. Taking into account the updated EASA bulletin on flight safety in the Simferopol region and the lifting of restrictions of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on flights in Simferopol Flight Information Region, we propose to use this part of the airspace for NATO air operations, for transporting troops, equipment, cargo, etc. We count on NATO’s support in monitoring air traffic situation in the region,” said Krykliy.
The sides discussed the participation of the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure in the preparation for joint Ukraine-NATO exercises in the Black Sea "Coherent Resilience 2021" as well as cooperation in the field of cybersecurity.
In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.
On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.
International organizations have declared the annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.