Ukraine to ban flights by Russian, Syrian airlines that serve Crimea

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KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine will ban flights over its territory by 13 Russian regional air carriers and Syrian Cham Wings Airlines for three years, the government said on Wednesday, citing flights by them into and out of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

A draft resolution approved by the cabinet prohibits "the transit of resources, flights and transportation" by the 14 airlines. It must be approved by Ukraine's council of national security, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to become effective.

"Air carriers of the Russian Federation systematically violate the procedure for using the airspace of Ukraine," the government said in a statement.

"Violations consist of flights within the prohibited zone over the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea."

Hundreds of Russian entities, businessmen and politicians have been sanctioned by Kyiv since Ukraine's giant neighbour annexed the Crimean peninsula.

Bigger Russian airlines, including national flag carrier Aeroflot and Transaero, have been forbidden to enter Ukrainian airspace since 2015.

Ukraine has also accused Russia of sending arms and troops to help pro-Moscow separatists fighting its soldiers in the east of the country, in a conflict which has killed nearly 14,000 people since April 2014. Russia denies involvement.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Editing by Catherine Evans)