Support The Moscow Times!

Russia Advises Aeroflot to Avoid Tehran at Night After Ukraine Airliner Crash

The Foreign Ministry recommended that Aeroflot only perform flights to and from Tehran in daylight hours. Sergei Bobylev / TASS

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has advised the country’s national carrier Aeroflot to avoid airspace over Tehran at night after Iran’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, the RBC news website reported Monday.

Tehran has acknowledged shooting down the Ukrainian jetliner by mistake on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people aboard. Russia’s civil aviation authority told its air carriers to avoid airspace around the region but fell short of issuing a blanket ban.

The Foreign Ministry recommended that Aeroflot only perform flights to and from Tehran in daylight hours, RBC cited two unnamed sources familiar with the decision as saying.

It was unclear if Aeroflot followed that advice, but its hub, Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, has delayed flights to and from Tehran by at least four hours since Saturday, according to RIA Novosti.

Tehran said its air defenses were fired in error while on alert in the days after Iranian missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq. It said the airliner was mistaken for a "hostile target" after it turned toward a sensitive military base of the elite Revolutionary Guards near Tehran.

Update: Aeroflot decided to suspend its nighttime flights to Iran without the Foreign Ministry's recommendation, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference Tuesday. 

Reuters contributed reporting to this article.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.