MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/. Ukraine’s State Aviation Service claimed Wednesday that it imposed fines worth 261.5 million hryvnias (some $17 million) on Russian air carriers for what it called unauthorized flights to Crimea.
In its statement, the service mentioned 18 Russian airlines, including flag carrier Aeroflot, Globus, Rossiya, Ural Airlines, Donavia and Rossiya - Special Flight Squadron. A total of 1,923 resolutions on fines to be paid to the Ukrainian budget were filed, the statement said.
After Crimea joined Russia in March, the Ukrainian State Aviation Service declared airspace above the Crimean Peninsula closed for flights. In late July 2014, the Ukrainian agency already said it imposed fines worth 24.48 million hryvnias ($1.2 million) on 13 Russian air carriers. Service head Denis Antonyuk confirmed to TASS that the fines were being imposed for flights to Crimea.
Russian airlines say Ukraine’s “fines” are ungrounded because the airspace above Crimea is Russian and flights to the city of Simferopol are carried out in line with Russian laws and regulations.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11. They held a referendum on March 16, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
Crimea had joined the Russian Empire in 1783, when it was conquered by Russian Empress Catherine the Great.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the USSR’s Communist Party, transferred it to Ukraine's jurisdiction as a gift.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of newly independent Ukraine and remained in that capacity until March 2014, when it reunified with Russia after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.
Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems is actively underway now that Crimea has acceded to the Russian Federation.