Government tells Brits to leave Russia as Ukraine crisis escalates

5 March 2022, 11:00 | Updated: 5 March 2022, 13:07

British nationals have been told to consider leaving Russia
British nationals have been told to consider leaving Russia. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

British nationals in Russia whose presence is "not essential" have been told to consider leaving the country.

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Travel advice on the Foreign Office website on Saturday said it had been "updated to advise British nationals whose presence in Russia is not essential to consider leaving by remaining commercial routes".

Brits were told to be aware that it may not be possible to fly directly to the UK, or via EU countries, and should amend any travel plans.

Previously, the advice had been that those outside Russia should not travel to the country.

The advice said: "The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel to the whole of Russia due to the lack of available flight options to return to the UK, and the increased volatility in the Russian economy.

"If your presence in Russia is not essential, we strongly advise that you consider leaving by remaining commercial routes."

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The move points towards a deepening of the crisis engulfing Ukraine, with impacts of sanctions felt in Russia.

Due to the growing number of sanctions, Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot announced later on Saturday that it would halt all international flights - except to Minsk, in Belarus - from March 8 at midnight Moscow time.

It comes after the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency announced all foreign-bound flights would be grounded on Saturday.

It was also announced that all foreign-made aircrafts would cease international flights from Sunday.

It also follows the Department of Transport's decision to ban Russian commercial and civilian aircrafts from the UK - in one of many sanctions brought against the country.

A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued, explaining that all aircrafts "owned, chartered or operated by a person connected with Russia" would be barred.

In response, Russia banned UK flights to and over Russia, saying: "A restriction was introduced on the use of Russian airspace for flights of aircrafts owned, leased or operated by an organisation linked to or registered in the UK."