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Why the issue of Ukraine's airspace is so important

The skies above Ukraine are currently in a 'restrictive' state, but the country is asking NATO to declare a no-fly zone over the area.

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio — When Russia began invading Ukraine, one of the military's first hits was the airport in Kyiv. The runway and planes were taken out, and Ukrainian refugees can now only leave by foot or train.

"Ukrainians should not be leaving Ukraine," Andriy Voyetskiy, a native of the country, said.

RELATED: UN refugee agency says 1 million have fled Ukraine, millions more could follow

Now living in Broadview Heights, Voyetskiy is a pilot who flies 737s out of Cleveland. He wants to fly a cargo plane, anything to get his people out of Vladimir Putin's way, but he can't.

"There's restrictive airspace and prohibited airspace," he explained. "[In] prohibited airspace, you can't fly through it; and restrictive airspace, you have to have permission [of] the governing body."

Tuesday night at the State of the Union, President Joe Biden announced Russian commercial airlines are prohibited from using U.S airspace 

"Prohibited is prohibited," Voyetskiy emphasized. "You cannot fly. Commercial airlines cannot go through there."

Ukraine is asking NATO for a no-fly zone over its own airspace, but if that happens, it will force NATO pilots to engage directly Russians. World leaders have sought to avoid escalating a conflict with a nuclear power, so currently, the skies above Ukraine are in a "restrictive" state.

"Let's say it's restrictive because someone is doing training with the Air Force or Navy," Voyetskiy told 3News. "You can have permission to fly through it when there is no action."

But as we know, the crisis in Eastern Europe is no training matter. Voteskiy has been flying in the U.S for 19 years with plenty of experience, ethics, and knowledge of being in the air. And yet, he feels helpless watching what's going on in Ukraine.

"It's like a bad dream," he said. "I'm hoping to wake up and wish it was a horrible dream."

   

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