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KLM airline cancels flights into Ukraine amid rising tensions

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Dutch airline KLM announced on Saturday that it is canceling flights into Ukraine, a move that comes amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Kyiv.

The airline said the decision was made after “an extensive safety analysis,” noting that it followed “adjusted travel advice to code red.” The Dutch government had issued a warning against traveling to Ukraine, according to The Wall Street Journal.

KLM said the next flight scheduled to the Ukrainian capital was scheduled for Saturday night, but it “will not be operated.”

“It is not yet clear when KLM will fly to Kiev again,” the airline added in a statement.

The airline noted that it has not dispatched flights over the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea since 2014.

The cancelation of KLM flights to Ukraine comes as the U.S. and other countries are becoming increasingly concerned that Russia is planning a military incursion against Ukraine. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could occur “any day now.”

Russia has denied having plans to invade Ukraine, despite the fact that it has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian charter airline SkyUp revealed on Sunday that one of its flights scheduled to take off in Madeira, Portugal and land in Kyiv had been diverted to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, according to The Associated Press. The diversion occurred after the Irish lessor of the plane said flights were being banned from moving in Ukrainian airspace.

Ukraine, however, has not closed off its airspace, the country’s presidential spokesman, Serhii Nykyforov, told the AP.

Some airlines, including KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa, began rescheduling flights in January, that way crews working on planes would not have to stay in Kyiv overnight, according to the Journal. The arrangements were made amid the heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Lufthansa on Sunday said it is watching the circumstances unfolding in Ukraine and would decide whether or not to break off air traffic.

The U.S. is currently advising Americans against traveling to Ukraine “due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19,” urging people in the country to “depart immediately via commercial or private means.”

Additionally, the State Department ordered the departure of most U.S. employees at the embassy in Kyiv.

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