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U.S. Urges Airlines to Exercise 'Extreme Caution' Near Russia-Ukraine Border

Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have escalated in recent weeks following an uptick in fighting between Ukraine's army and pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. Sophia Sandurskaya / Moskva News Agency

The United States’ aviation authority has warned airlines to exercise “extreme caution” when flying over areas near the Russia-Ukraine border as tensions surge over Russia’s military buildup and renewed clashes in eastern Ukraine.

Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have escalated in recent weeks following an uptick in fighting between Ukraine's army and pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia has significantly increased its military presence near the Ukrainian border and on the annexed Crimean peninsula in what experts and the White House call the largest troop build-up since the eastern Ukraine conflict first broke out in 2014. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a NOTAM alert warning U.S. airlines to review security threat information and provide notice of planned flights over the Russia-Ukraine border at least 72 hours in advance. 

The FAA cited “escalating regional tensions between Russia and Ukraine” with a potential for military conflict as the reason for its warning. 

Ukraine’s State Aviation Administration said Saturday that it has proposed establishing direct cooperation with its U.S. counterparts in order to exchange information and coordinate responses to threats from the eastern Ukraine conflict zone.

The Ukrainian air authority noted that there is currently no danger to civilian aviation near the conflict zone.

The FAA warning comes nearly seven years after Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down over separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people, mostly Dutch nationals, on board. 

A Dutch-led international investigation says a Russian-made missile brought from across the border in western Russia was responsible for the downing of the passenger plane. Russia denies its involvement in the plane’s downing.

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