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MOSCOW, December 2. /TASS/. Ukraine has not sent any notifications about new missile firing drills in the Black Sea after December 2, the head of Russia’s aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia told reporters.
"There have been no new NOTAM (notice to airmen), the old notification is in force that we received last Thursday that dangerous zones will be activated in western Ukraine over the neutral waters. They have intruded our territorial waters," Alexander Neradko said on the sidelines of a transport forum.
"Later Ukraine changed its notification and activated a dangerous zone for the missile launches excluding the territorial waters. This notification remains in force today," he said.
Rosaviatsia reported earlier the Ukrainian side had issued a new aviation notification (NOTAM) overnight to Thursday saying it was shifting the coordinates of dangerous zones to the west of Russia’s territorial waters. The new zones are located in neutral waters while Russia’s territorial waters are unaffected, Rosaviatsia said.
Neradko noted that the Black Sea is a very wrong place for air defense missile launches.
"The Black Sea is in fact a land-locked one. Its water areas are no good for such missile launches," Neradko said. "Even in the Soviet era there were no air defense missile launches from the ground into the airspace over the sea, because the safety zones that would have to be established would be very large. The factor of safety should be no smaller than 1.5. If the range of a missile is 200 kilometers, then it will have to be multiplied by 1.5. The safety zone will be as large as 350 kilometers."
Neradko said the Soviet Union invariably conducted missile launch practices at test sites away from populated areas, for instance, the Ashuluk proving ground.
"I believe that the Ukrainian authorities are aware that such a safety zone should be established, its radius measuring approximately 350 kilometers. A missile may fly not only towards the Black Sea. It may also hit communities inside Ukraine," he added.
Russia is monitoring the airspace over Simferopol and the Black Sea, according to Neradko.
"Of course, we are monitoring, we are cooperating with our Defense Ministry and are keeping a close watch on the airspace. We have done everything to make sure that flights to Simferopol are safe," Neradko said.
Neradko also said Russia has suggested that the issue of Ukraine missile-firing drills in the Black Sea be reviewed at a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
"The Transport Ministry has forwarded a letter to ICAO President (Benard) Aliu. We suggested that this issue be reviewed at an ICAO meeting since it is an unprecedented violation of all international agreements on ensuring flights safety over the Black Sea," he said.
According to him, turning to ICAO is not the only way to come to terms.
"I don’t think that any other measures could be taken in this case. We have always invited our Ukrainian counterparts to bilateral negotiations on this matter," he noted. "There are various methods and ways to clinch an agreement. The main thing is that the parties should have common sense and adhere to international law instead of taking such provocative steps."
Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said earlier that Russia had taken all the necessary countermeasures, in particular, he had forwarded a letter to the ICAO President briefing him on the situation involving Ukraine’s missile firing drills in the airspace near Crimea.
The Ukrainian military started missile exercises, including live launches, near Ukraine’s border with Crimea on Thursday morning.
Earlier, Rosaviatsia said that Ukraine planned to hold missile exercises in the Simferopol flight information region (FIR) over the city of Simferopol and part of the Black Sea on December 1 and 2. It also issued a special notification about high-risk zones in that region. Later, Ukraine declared it was introducing more high-risk zones there.
Meanwhile, Viktor Muzhenko, Chief of Ukraine’s General Staff, wrote on his Facebook page that Kiev’s missile launch and aviation flight drills had ended. "Air defense missiles were successfully flight tested," he wrote.