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Tags: Serbia | Russia

Russian Minister's Visit Canceled after Overflight Refusal

Russian Minister's Visit Canceled after Overflight Refusal

Monday, 06 June 2022 07:00 AM EDT

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia on Monday confirmed that a planned visit by Russia's foreign minister to the Balkan country will not take place.

The announcement followed reports that Serbia's neighbors, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro had refused to allow Sergey Lavrov's plane to fly through their airspace to reach Serbia.

President Aleksandar Vucic said Monday that Russia's ambassador to Serbia had met with him and informed him of the reasons why Lavrov could not come.

Vucic offered no details, but the pro-Russian Vecernje Novosti daily carried photos of what it said were official documents rejecting the overflights.

Late on Sunday, Moscow also accused the West of closing off lines of communication by forcing Lavrov to cancel Monday's planned visit.

Serbia’s neighbors closed their airspace to Lavrov’s plane, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Italian television in comments reported by Russian news agencies.

“This is another closed channel of communication,” Zakharova said.

Serbia has maintained friendly relations with Russia despite the war in Ukraine, refusing to join sanctions against Moscow.

Serbia also is fully dependent on Russian gas. Vucic recently talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone to arrange a new deal on gas supplies for the next three years.

Analyst Slobodan Stupar described Lavrov's attempted visit to Belgrade as a “show” that would have been used by Moscow to further vilify the West.

“I believe the Russians invited themselves” to Serbia, Stupar told The Associated Press. “They are terribly isolated. ... They can now say that Europe and the world are not democratic and won't allow a simple flyover.”

Analysts in Belgrade have pointed out that Lavrov's visit would further erode Serbia's standing in the West after Belgrade rejected imposing sanctions on Moscow.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected in the region late this week.

Stupar said that Vucic has placed himself “in between” Russia and the West, by attempting to maintain ties with Moscow while Serbia is seeking membership in the European Union at the same time.

“That is the worst possible position one can imagine,” Stupar said.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


GlobalTalk
Serbia on Monday confirmed that a planned visit by Russia's foreign minister to the Balkan country will not take place.The announcement followed reports that Serbia's neighbors, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro had refused to allow Sergey Lavrov's plane to fly...
Serbia,Russia
340
2022-00-06
Monday, 06 June 2022 07:00 AM
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