* Ukraine tightens controls on "men of an active age"
* Moscow demands clarification, says may retaliate
* Russian airlines issue warning to passengers
* Two countries share close business, family ties
(Adds Russian response)
KIEV/MOSCOW, April 17 Ukraine said on Thursday
it will impose stricter border controls on Russian men trying to
enter the country, where separatist rebellions have broken out,
prompting Moscow to threaten retaliation.
The Kiev government, which has accused Moscow of stirring up
trouble in the largely Russian-speaking east, said it would
target checks on "men of an active age" due to "possible
However, any restrictions on movements between the
neighbouring states - which share close cross-border family and
business ties - risk aggravating a crisis which erupted when
pro-Moscow Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in
February and Russian troops seized control in Crimea.
Russian airline S7 said three passengers on flights from
Moscow to the Ukrainian city of Odessa had been turned back, the
Interfax news agency reported.
Kiev tightened the controls as foreign ministers from
Ukraine, Russia and the United States held talks in Geneva along
with the European Union's foreign policy chief on calming the
"From today the Ukrainian border control service has
significantly increased checks at the border with Russia," a
spokesman for the service, Oleh Slobodian, said.
"This applies to Russian citizens because there is
information about possible provocations at the border, up to and
including terrorist attacks. Attention will be primarily paid to
men of an active age, traveling alone or in a group."
The announcement drew a sharp response from Moscow, which
has denied interfering in eastern Ukraine and accuses Kiev of
causing the crisis by ignoring the rights of Russian speakers.
"Russia insists on an immediate official clarification from
Ukraine on steps taken by the Ukrainian state border control
service. Upon receiving the relevant information from Kiev, we
will consider appropriate retaliatory measures," the Foreign
Ministry said in a statement.
Russia's flag carrier Aeroflot earlier issued a
statement warning passengers that the Ukrainian authorities were
"massively restricting" entry to the country.
It indicated that men between the ages of 16 and 60 would be
denied entry unless they had proof of a reason to visit, such as
family ties or an invitation from a business or individual, or
were travelling with their families.
Most Ukrainian passport holders who are residents of Crimea
- which Russia annexed last month - will also face stricter
border checks, the airline said.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kiev and Alissa de Carbonnel in
Moscow; Editing by Steve Gutterman and David Stamp)