As the Ukraine war reaches a standstill, Kyiv’s Boryspil airport is poised to resume operations within a month, according to Director General Oleksiy Dubrevskyy. The airport, Ukraine’s largest, catering to 9 million passengers in 2021, ceased operations in February 2022 due to Russia’s invasion.
Despite being targeted in two initial Russian attacks, Boryspil airport has maintained its staff and established agreements with airlines in preparation for the post-war period. The reopening of this major airport will bring immense relief to Ukrainians, especially considering the UN’s report that approximately 8 million displaced Ukrainians expressed their desire to return home once the conflict concludes.
For them, the resumption of flights represents a significant positive development and a beacon of hope for the nation’s future stability and normalcy.
The Reopening of Ukraine: Flights First, Economy Later
Since the outbreak of the war in February 2022, Ukrainian airspace has remained closed to civilian flights due to significant safety concerns caused by the use of weapons and military equipment. This closure led to a directive from the UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, instructing aircraft to avoid Ukrainian airspace.
Consequently, British citizens were advised to leave the country for their safety. Throughout the conflict, many Ukrainian airports suffered attacks or were destroyed by the Russian military. Presently, only Kyiv, Lviv, and Odesa airports remain in good condition, with the eastern Ukrainian airspace likely to remain restricted for the foreseeable future.
However, the rest of the country’s airports are anticipated to resume operations shortly, providing a glimmer of hope for the nation’s aviation infrastructure amid the ongoing challenges. The war in Ukraine has not entirely ceased, but a major aggressive phase seems to have come to a halt.
Russia has not advanced further into Ukraine, currently occupying territories in Donetsk and Luhansk comfortably. Despite occasional drone strikes, the impact is less severe than before. Ukrainians, adapting to the new normalcy, are seen socializing and moving about, although the population has diminished. President Zelensky recognizes the importance of economic stability and a thriving population.
Therefore, in this relative stability, with neither side gaining significant ground, the decision to reopen the airspace has been made.
Threats to Plan?: The Future
It’s a practical move considering the situation; the resumption of flights signifies a cautious step toward normalcy amid the ongoing geopolitical tensions in the region. However, the move could easily backfire.
The decision to reopen Ukrainian airspace stands on a precipice between wisdom and the potential for epic, catastrophic stupidity. Ukraine’s desire to bring back its citizens for economic recovery and military purposes is understandable.
Yet, the move to resume air traffic is undeniably risky. What if the smoldering tensions between Russia and Ukraine erupt into a full-blown conflict again? In the midst of counterattacks, a single missile strike could bring down an airplane, shattering any semblance of peace. The apparent benefit of resumed flights is overshadowed by the looming threat.
Zelensky’s gamble with the lives of Ukrainians and potentially the world is palpable. Mere economic gains cannot justify such a perilous decision. Opening the airspace before a lasting peace agreement is reached is not just a gamble; it’s a reckless endangerment of lives and a precarious dance on the edge of global catastrophe. Therefore, before taking such a big step, it will be greatly noble for Kyiv to examine the consequences first.