Aviation industry mum on Russia’s warped Manpad warning
Russia has so far failed to provoke a reaction from Western aviation alphabet organizations with a recent warning about the threat to civilian aircraft from surface-to-air missiles exported from the United States to the Ukraine. In a March 5 statement, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova cited what she called the growing threat of man-portable air defense systems (manpads) ending up in the hands of “terrorists or illegal armed groups, not only in Ukraine, but in Europe as well”, thus posing a “great danger” to civil aviation.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) declined to take a public position on the matter. In a statement to AIN, an ICAO spokesperson must maintain neutrality on these issues. “As a politically neutral body, the ICAO Secretariat does not comment on the positions of specific States on any issue,” he said. IATA simply declined to comment, “We’re not responding to that,” an IATA spokesperson said.
However, the ICAO also noted that Russia had not raised the issue as a diplomatic issue for the ICAO Council to deliberate.
Nevertheless, Zakharova claimed that Western capitals “grossly ignore” a number of international agreements aimed at minimizing the risk of manpads falling into the hands of “terrorist or criminal elements”, citing a resolution of the General Assembly of 2007 United Nations Against the Illicit Transfer and Unauthorized Access to Manpads and an agreement adopted in 2003 under the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies.
Zakharova also complained about the negligence shown by EU countries in the re-export of military equipment “often carried out in flagrant violation of the terms and conditions provided for in the certificates issued to end users”.
“The official office in Brussels prefers to keep a low profile on this issue while being well aware that for many years European criminal groups have received significant quantities of small arms and light weapons from Kosovo and Ukraine, from Bulgaria and Romania, which have been multiplied by many on pirate production of Russian/Soviet weapon designs under expired licenses or even without them,” she said.
“Once again we call on EU and NATO countries to stop the reckless flooding of the unsustainable regime in Kiev with the latest weapon systems in order to avoid the enormous risk to civil aviation international transport and other means of transport in Europe and beyond,” said Zakharova. concluded.
In fact, Ukraine’s national airspace has been closed to all civilian traffic since February 24, when EASA issued an urgent bulletin covering flight information regions (FIRs) around cities and districts of Kyiv. , Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk, Simferopol and Odessa. The agency warned operators to immediately comply with all airspace closures and warnings, including a notam issued by Russian officials closing part of the southern Rostov FIR, near the border between the countries.
EASA further advised that, as a safety precaution, pilots should also avoid using any airspace within 100 nm of Ukraine’s border with Russia and its close ally Belarus, which has closed part of its national airspace, as well as Moldova, which borders Ukraine on its southwestern side. Thus, given these actions, it is not clear what airspace the Russian government considers a risk for civilian aircraft of Ukrainian arms.
Meanwhile, as airlines have to make long detours to avoid Russian and Ukrainian airspace, they could face new security threats and logistical challenges. At an aviation conference in the UK on March 10, Matthew Borie, head of intelligence at security specialist Osprey Flight Solutions, warned that operators must adapt carefully to new risk profiles, as their operations departments select different alternative routes every day in regions such as the Middle East and Central Asia. “In some cases, they may feel pressure to find shorter routes and take a more aggressive approach to finding new routes,” he concluded.