After a brief aeropolitical standoff that led to the cancellation of three flights to Moscow last week, authorities in Russia have now approved all European Union-based carrier flight plans for Russia which bypass sanctioned Belarus.

Following the May 23 forced diversion of a Ryanair B737-800 to Minsk National while en route from Athens Int'l to Vilnius, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a non-binding safety information bulletin recommending all airlines bypass Belarus airspace. As all EU carriers started adhering to the bulletin, Moscow entered the tussle by rejecting three flight plans - two Air France flights from Paris CDG to Moscow Sheremetyevo and one Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna to Moscow Domodedovo - which were due to bypass Belarus.

However, Reuters has since reported that the dispute was resolved relatively quickly with all Belarus-bypassing flight plans now approved by Moscow.

Air France resumed services to the Russian capital on May 29 and Austrian Airlines on May 28. No other airline was affected by Moscow's grandstanding, despite concerns that its refusal to accept alternative routes might become more widespread.

While EASA recommended that all airlines avoid Belarus, it has no power to influence non-EU/EFTA carriers. Thus far, most non-EU carriers continue to fly through the country's airspace. Only Singapore Airlines has so far explicitly said that it would avoid entering Belarusian airspace due to safety concerns.

The east of Ukraine (Donbas), which is controlled by Russia-backed separatists, remains off-limits to all airlines following the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines B777-200(ER). Crimea, which is recognised as part of Ukraine but is de facto occupied by Russia, is only accessible to Russian airlines. As a result, airlines flying between Europe and northeast Asia that bypass Belarus are forced to take either a northerly route over Lithuania and Latvia or a significantly longer southern track via Turkey.