EU closes airspace to Russian planes, blocks state-backed media

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter that the European Union will ban Russian state-run media from broadcasting in the EU, as well as ban Russian planes from flying in EU airspace.

Von der Leyen presented the EU plan in a thread on Twitter, saying that RT and Sputnik – two Russian state-backed networks – and their subsidies “can no longer spread their lies to justify Putin’s war”. She also says the Commission is working on tools “to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe”, although there are still no details on what this may entail.

The EU will also no longer allow Russian planes, including private jets owned by oligarchs, into EU airspace, cutting a number of flights that land in or cross into Europe. Several EU countries, including Germany, Spain, France, Denmark and Italy, had already blocked Russia’s access to their airspace ahead of this announcement.

It is still unclear how the EU will go about banning Russian networks completely, apart from preventing cable networks and satellite TV services from carrying them. Both RT and Sputnik have active YouTube channels, and RT makes some of its episodes available on its website. YouTube banned Russian state-backed channels from monetizing their content on the platform, but restricted access to their videos only in Ukraine. Facebook is also targeting Russian networks by banning ads from state media, while Twitter has suspended ads in Russia and Ukraine entirely.

In addition to imposing a number of sanctions on Russia after its unprovoked attack on Ukraine, the United States and Europe announced on Saturday evening their intention to ban certain Russian banks from SWIFT, a payment network international.


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