Editor’s note: Russian flights definitely did take the long route over the Black Sea but so far nothing official from any capital as to why. A big own-goal for Poland/NATO if true.
— UPDATE — Poland categorically denies having done any such thing. Seems I was right to retain some skepticism.
Poland categorically denies closing its airspace to Russia aircraft, following Russian Senator’s accusation that Poland denied overflight to Russian planes carrying aid to Italy https://t.co/RjJ0IXZMxM
— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) March 24, 2020
As of Monday, Russia had sent fourteen Il-76 military aircraft to Italy to assist in the fight against the coronavirus. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, Russian military experts will engage in disinfection and COVID-19 prevention after coordinating their operations with Italian authorities.
Aleksey Pushkov, a Russian Senator and a former chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, said on Monday that Poland refused to let Russian military aircraft carrying aid to coronovirus-hit Italy use its airspace.
In a post on Twitter, Pushkov slammed Poland’s actions, describing them as “meanness on the level of public policy”.
He noted that “from now on, Russia should not meet Poland half-way”.
Польша не пропустила российские самолеты с помощью для Италии через свое воздушное пространство. Это подлость на уровне государственной политики. Тем более, что помощь шла в страну-союзницу Польши по ЕС и НАТО. России ни в чем не следует отныне идти навстречу Польше. Ни в чем.
— Алексей Пушков (@Alexey_Pushkov) March 23, 2020
The tweet reads: “Poland did not let Russian aircraft carrying aid to Italy pass through its airspace. This is meanness at the level of public policy. Moreover, the help was for an ally of Poland in the EU and NATO. From now on, Russia should not meet Poland half-way, on any issue.”
Internet users noticed that the aircraft route made a detour when flying to Italy, having to travel at least 3 000 kilometres more than if routed through Polish airspace.
An Ilyushin Il-76 from Russian Aerospace Forces is en route from Moscow to Rome with medical help to Italy. This is just one flight out of nine flights expected.https://t.co/iRRmx9aDB5 pic.twitter.com/yzGKcCX4q9
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 23, 2020
On Saturday, 21 March, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Russia’s commitment to provide aid for Italy, the nation most drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. According to Johns Hopkins University data, Italy has seen over 63,000 cases confirmed with 6,007 deaths as of 24 March.
Russia medical aid to Italy…check the flight-path? pic.twitter.com/hnbEIlfmxw
— Aginnah Paul Aginnah (@AginnahPaul) March 23, 2020