AMSTERDAM (WNI) — Dutch airline KLM announced Saturday that it was suspending all flights to and from Ukraine as an increasing number of countries warned citizens to stay out of the area.
With Russian forces amassed around Ukraine, there has been an international diplomatic effort underway to diffuse the crisis, the worst since the end of the Cold War. Britain and the United States have urged their citizens to leave citing intelligence showing a Russian invasion could take place within days.
The Netherlands urged its citizens to leave Ukraine immediately over the weekend, in line with a growing list of countries calling for swift evacuations including a number of EU and Gulf states.
KLM made its announcement on concerns that its flights could be at risk should the situation deteriorate without warning. The airline is particularly sensitive to the issue given that in 2014, a Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine killing 298 passengers, of which 196 were Dutch citizens.
The Ukrainian government today has advised airlines not to fly over the Black Sea starting from Monday as Russia begins large naval drills involving 30 ships around the Crimean peninsula. Ukraine’s airspace however will remain open and authorities have urged calm as international efforts to reduce tensions continue.