Biden announces total ban on Russian flights from US airspace

US President Biden rules out sending US troops to Ukraine but says he sent American soldiers to help protect NATO allies. Photo from White House
  • President Biden closes airspace to all Russian flights as the US joins Canada and Europe in punishing further Russia for invading Ukraine
  • Biden announced the flight ban as a Russian military convoy 65km long stalled outside Kyiv and enemy missiles and artillery fire struck the Ukrainian capital and a second city, Kharkiv
  • The President declared American support for the embattled Ukrainians but ruled out sending US troops to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday night (Washington time) a ban on all Russian flights from United States airspace as his country joined Europe and Canada in punishing Russia with a flight ban in addition to other economic sanctions for invading Ukraine.

“Tonight I’m announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American air space to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding additional squeeze on their economy,” the President said during his State of the Union address in Congress.

Biden imposed the ban as a convoy of Russian forces stretching 65km long stalled outside Kyiv and enemy missile and artillery fire bombarded the Ukrainian capital and a second city, Kharkiv, killing an undetermined number of civilians including children, reports said.

The US joins the European Union, Canada and the United Kingdom in banning Russian aircraft from its airspace . Even before European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the EU’s flight ban on Monday, several European countries including Germany, France and Italy had already done so.

Biden began his first State of the Union address with a display of solidarity for the Ukrainian people, receiving a bipartisan standing ovation as he called on members of Congress to stand in the House chamber in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

“In this struggle, President Zelensky said in his speech to the European Parliament, ‘Light will win over darkness.’ The Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States is here tonight sitting with the First Lady,” Biden said.

“Let each of us here tonight in this Chamber if you’re able to stand, stand and send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world,” the President said.

He received a loud standing ovation from the members, many of whom wore blue and yellow in support of Ukraine. Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova, stood holding her country’s flag and laying her hand on her chest.

“Yes. We, the United States of America, stand with the Ukrainian people,” Biden said. He later praised the people of Ukraine and Ukrainian-Americans amid the ongoing crisis.

Biden told the members of Congress: “Let me be clear – our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.”

Instead, American troops were deployed to Europe not to fight in Ukraine, “but to defend our NATO allies in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west.”

“For that purpose, we have mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia,” he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, iconic US companies Boeing and Ford announced they were immediately suspending their operations in Russia to comply with economic sanctions imposed by the US and several other countries on Russia for invading Ukraine.