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Canada will oppose Russia’s re-election to U.N. aviation agency: minister

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Canada will oppose Russia’s re-election to the U.N.’s aviation agency, Omar Alghabra, Canada’s transport minister, told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) assembly.

“It’s important that Russia is held accountable for its actions, and we will not be supporting Russia’s nomination to the council,” Alghabra said.

A vote to elect countries to ICAO’s 36-member governing council is to be held on Saturday.

Asked if he expects other countries to follow suit, Alghabra said, “We are having discussions with other countries about our collective approach, because we need an international collective response.” International rule violations cannot go “unaccounted” for, he added.

Russia closed its airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including all 27 members of the European Union, in response to Ukraine-related sanctions targeting its aviation sector following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are talking to our allies and like-minded countries about what we can do to collectively respond,” Alghabra said.

The Russian federation at ICAO was not immediately available for comment.

The 193-nation ICAO assembly, held every three years, is the first since the COVID-19 pandemic put pressure on policymakers to speed up reforms.

A representative of the Russian Federation asked the assembly to condemn public statements and actions by a group of countries, “including the introduction of bans on the use of sovereign airspace.”

The European Union’s transport commissioner, Adina Valean, suggested Russia should not continue to serve on ICAO’s 36-member council. The West says Russia has illegally confiscated hundreds of foreign jets, a charge Moscow denies.

“We cannot accept that a member, breaching so clearly the Chicago Convention, sits in the very council that should act as its guardian,” Valean said in reference to the 1944 treaty that created ICAO and set rules for international aviation.

“This is not about politics. It is about the fundamentals of this organization,” she told the assembly.

© 2022 Reuters

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