Russian Roundabout: a long way to go for some expelled diplomats

Russia sent an aircraft with the intention of rescuing Russian diplomats from Spain and Greece earlier this week. Although Spain and Greece granted permission for the aircraft to enter their airspace for a single time, the flights navigated around countries that ban Russian flights. The total length of the flights was 15,163 km, just shy of the current world’s longest flight between Singapore and New York.

Moscow to Madrid

The aircraft flew the first leg from Moscow to Spain, a very long distance. The flight had to remain in international airspace, except for entry into Spain. This was more than twice the distance between the cities.

Moscow—Madrid great circle distance

3,409 km

Moscow—Madrid actual distance

7,086 km

Madrid to Athens

The Russian plane took off from Madrid and flew straight out of Spanish airspace. The Russian plane then skirted North Africa along the Mediterranean coast, while avoiding Maltese airspace and Italian airspace. After crossing Libya to Egypt, the flight headed north to Athens.

Madrid—Athens great circle distance

2,383 km

Madrid—Athens actual distance

3,729 km

Moscow to Athens

The aircraft flew through mostly friendly airspace on its return flight from Athens. Turkey continues to allow Russian aircraft access to its airspace, including commercial flights to Turkish destinations. Once the aircraft was out of Turkish airspace, the flight continued east, avoiding an area of Russian airspace close to Ukraine that has been closed to all flights since the Russian invasion at the end February.

Athens—Moscow great circle distance

2,203 km

Athens—Moscow actual distance

4,348 km

Additional countries have stated that Russian diplomats either will or could be expelled, so it is possible that we’ll see even more circuitous flights by Russia.

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