Russia has blocked flights over Crimea and the Black Sea for naval and aviation drills this week, Interfax reported Tuesday, citing an alert to pilots.
The „notice to airmen” (NOTAM), which is filed to warn aircraft pilots of potential hazards, applies to territorial waters off the southern coast of Crimea and parts of international waters off of the Black Sea for five days starting Tuesday, the Moscow Times reported.
“The area has been declared temporarily dangerous for aircraft flights,” Interfax reported.
It added that the restrictions apply at a maximum altitude of 19,000 meters.
The Russian military holds massive Black Sea maneuvers this week.
More than 20 Black Sea Fleet warships conducted joint drills with Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft from the Southern Military District following the NOTAM alert, Interfax reported.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov argued that the flight restrictions were a common international practice in a press briefing.
Russia’s defense ministry has closed off navigation in parts of the Black Sea to foreign military and official ships. The closure is from mid-April until the end of October.
British warships will sail for the Black Sea in May amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing senior naval sources.
The deployment is aimed at showing solidarity with Ukraine and Britain’s NATO allies, the newspaper reported.
A destroyer armed with anti-aircraft missiles and an anti-submarine frigate will leave the Royal Navy’s carrier task group in the Mediterranean and head through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, according to the report.
The flight and navigation closures come as Russia has amassed, according to EU estimates, more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine and in Crimea.
Foreign observers and the White House call it the largest troop build-up since the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists broke out in 2014.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a NOTAM alert warning over the weekend telling U.S. airlines to exercise “extreme caution” over areas near the Russia-Ukraine border amid a surge in tensions surge over the military build-up.