The State Aviation Service of Ukraine sent a letter to Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency on 1 October, asking it to clarify the reasons for the imposition of sanctions on Ukrainian airlines. Infrastructure Minister Andrii Pyvovarskyi announced this at a briefing in Kiev on Friday, 2 October, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reports.

"In the letter, we are asking them to indicate the basis on which the sanctions were imposed and the number of Ukrainian airlines that fall under them. I hope that we can get a response from the Russian aviation authorities by the end of the day," he said.

Pyvovarskyi noted that Ukraine imposed sanctions on Russian airlines because of their violation of the ban on flights to the annexed Crimea. According to him, the Ukrainian sanctions list consists of 29 Russian airlines, 27 of which performed illegal flights to the Crimea, and two Ukrainian companies alienated by the Crimean authorities.

In addition, the minister said that the sanctions against Russian airlines were not intended to erect an "iron curtain" between the two countries.

"The purpose of the sanctions is to punish offenders and increase the economic pressure on the nuclear-armed state that engaged in an act of military aggression against Ukraine. Other countries - the United States, the EU, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, etc. - have also imposed similar sanctions on the Russian Federation. The global community supports us. Like other countries, Ukraine is ready to incur economic losses as a result of such a decision," said the minister.

He added that measures taken by Ukraine were stipulated in the intergovernmental agreement on air links between Ukraine and Russia. "We have documentary confirmation of the violations and this is the reason for the cancellation of flight licenses. It is important for the understanding of citizens of Ukraine and the expert community. I emphasize again that the Ukrainian sanctions are in response to violations of the provisions of a bilateral intergovernmental agreement by Russian airlines: they did not adhere to the national legislation of Ukraine, ignored international rules and flew to the occupied Crimea despite the ban," said the minister.

According to Pyvovarskyi, the volume of air passenger traffic between Ukraine and Russia was about 657,000 in the first half of 2015, and Russian companies transported 2.5 times more than Ukrainian companies.

"Transit is a significant proportion of this passenger traffic, meaning that Ukrainian passengers will now be able to take advantage of transit opportunities at the existing hubs and this loss will not be sensitive for them," Pyvovarskyi said.

As reported, a decree that President Petro Poroshenko signed on 16 September introduced the National Security and Defense Council’s decision of 2 September that imposed sanctions on Russia. The sanctions list includes major Russian airlines such as Aeroflot, Transaero, and S7 Airlines, as well as smaller airlines. The UTair airline, which did not operate flights to the Crimea, is the only major Russian airline not on the sanctions list. On 25 September, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to ban the Russian airlines on the sanctions list from flying to Ukraine from 25 October, the beginning of the winter flying season.

On 29 September, it emerged that Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency has decided to ban Ukrainian airlines from flying to Russia from 25 October. The legal basis for this decision was not published.