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Moscow Asks Lebanon To Close Airspace For Russian Naval Maneuvers

Lebanon says it is studying a Kremlin request for it to close its airspace so that Russian forces can conduct naval maneuvers off of Lebanon.

Russia informed Lebanese officials on November 20 that at midnight it would begin three days of exercises along Lebanon's coast and that all flights from Beirut should be diverted.

Lebanese Transportation Minister Ghazi Zeaiter said on November 20 that Beirut initially refused the Russian request but would make a final decision after talking to Russian officials and regional transportation staff.

Russian fighter jets are currently involved in an intensive bombing campaign in Syria.

Lebanon has few options for alternative routes from Beirut because it does not fly over Israel, its southern neighbor, and is avoiding Syria due to the hostilities there.

Lebanese national carrier Middle East Airlines said in a statement that its flights would proceed as normal from Beirut at the current time but added that some flights to Persian Gulf states could take longer if alternative routes need to be taken.

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt wrote in a tweet that Russian seemed to "consider Lebanon as a district of Moscow, infringing and insulting our sovereignty."

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and