CIS states close their borders and suspend air connections

Belarus is the only nation in the region to describe closing borders as ‘nonsense’

CIS COVID-19 closed borders Belarus hasn't closed its borders, but its flag carrier Belavia had to cancel most of its flights (Belavia)

Most countries in the post-Soviet territories, including the member states of the CIS, have announced the closure of their borders and the suspension of all air connections to mitigate the spreading of Coronavirus.

Today, Russia announced a March 27 complete ban on air connections except evacuation flights. Ukraine is to completely close its borders from March 28, whilst all scheduled air travel continues to be under ban since March 16.

The first local nation to declare a state of emergency and close its borders was Kazakhstan, with its restrictions covering the period March 16 to April 15. On the same day, Lithuania announced the closure of its borders, followed by the other Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, the latter imposing a state of emergency until April 14. Its airBaltic airline was forced to suspend all operations indefinitely.

Similar steps were then introduced by the states of Moldova and Kyrgyzstan, from March 17 and 18, respectively. Moldova also cancelled all flights to Europe for two weeks starting March 22. Tajikistan remains closed for travel from March 20 to May 1, and Uzbekistan indefinitely from March 23.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan and Armenia have imposed only partial restrictions on travel, including the complete ban on passenger transportation between these neighbouring countries starting from March 14, initially for a trial period of 10 days, but no further information is available. Azerbaijan is also restricting travel within the country, in particular isolating its capital city of Baku. Georgia closed its borders for a period of 14 days starting March 18.

Belarus remains the only country in the region that has not thus far closed its borders. Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko even called on Russia “not to spread panic.”

He added: “We have no urge to close [borders] from Polish, nor Russians, nor Ukrainians. If they want to – they can close. We don’t have to, because it doesn’t make any sense. It is simply impossible, especially in those places where there’s virtually no border – [where] people have crossed there for centuries and will continue to do so. So, God forbid, if there’s some pestilence, we won’t beat it territorially,” Lukashenko told Belarusian newswire BELTA, commenting on Russia’s decision to close its borders.

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