Lavrov criticizes three European countries for blocking a visit to Serbia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described as “unprecedented” the decision by NATO members – Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bulgaria – to close their airspace to his plane and said that such measures would not destroy Russia’s relations with Serbia.
“A sovereign state has been deprived of its right to conduct a foreign policy,” Lavrov said, commenting on the countries’ decision to block the plane from flying over their airspace.
“Serbia’s international activities on the Russian path have been blocked,” he said.
The Russian foreign minister’s two-day visit to Belgrade, which was due to start on Monday, was postponed after Serbia’s neighbors refused to let his plane use their airspace. The Russian Foreign Minister was due to meet senior officials, including Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. In a press conference after the incident, Lavrov blamed the EU and NATO for the political decision.
“This is another clear and instructive demonstration of how far NATO and the European Union can go in using the vilest methods to influence those who are guided by national interests and are not willing to sacrifice their principles. and their dignity in the name of ‘rules’ imposed by the West instead of international law,” he said.
Lavrov added that “if a visit by a Russian foreign minister is seen in the West as something close to a global threat, then by all accounts things in the West are pretty bad.”
Despite applying for EU membership, Serbia is the only European country, apart from Belarus, to have refused to impose sanctions on Moscow since its war against Ukraine began on February 24. . The two Orthodox Christian nations share cultural ties as well as military and economic partnerships. With its right of veto at the UN, Russia firmly supports Serbia’s refusal to recognize Kosovo’s independence. President Vučić expressed his intention to bring Serbia into the European Union, but he also expressed his opposition to the imposition of sanctions against Russia and called such a possibility disastrous for his country.
Commenting on the incident, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said he deeply regretted the “obstruction” of Lavrov’s visit, adding that “Serbia is proud not to be part of the hysteria anti-Russian”.
Serbia depends almost entirely on Russian gas, while its major energy companies are majority Russian-owned.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the EU has focused on how to reduce its gas purchases from Russia. Russia dominated the continent’s natural gas market for decades, and imports of Russian natural gas have continued despite the war in Ukraine.
So far, Western powers have imposed tough sanctions on Moscow and EU countries have banned Russian airlines from their airspace. They also agreed to exclude Russian banks, which were under sanctions, from an international payment system used by thousands of financial institutions known as SWIFT. Existing sanctions have prevented Russia from importing key technologies that would be adopted in the defense, energy, telecommunications and aviation sectors.
The EU has focused on how to reduce its oil purchases from Russia. As part of the sixth and toughest set of sanctions against Moscow, European Union leaders agreed to embargo most Russian oil imports into the bloc by the end of the year. Made up of 27 countries with a total population of 447 million, the European Union is considered one of the largest and most prolific markets for energy exporters, given its lack of national resources.