Russia slams airspace closures as 'hostile actions'

Spokesman Peskov says closure of airspace brings 'discomfort' to diplomatic work.

Russia slams airspace closures as 'hostile actions'

The Kremlin on Monday called airspace closures by three eastern European countries which prevented Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from traveling to Serbia as “hostile actions.”

Lavrov, who was due to reach the Serbian capital of Belgrade on a two-day visit on Monday that included talks with President Aleksandar Vucic, was forced to call off the trip after Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bulgaria closed their airspace to his plane.

Such "hostile actions" could lead to a change in the schedule of high-level diplomatic meetings, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing in Moscow.

He added that the measures bring "some discomfort" to diplomatic work, but will not significantly hinder Russia's contacts with friendly countries.

Earlier, Lavrov in a news briefing in Moscow said no one will be able to destroy Russia's relations with Serbia, and that he invited his Serbian counterpart to visit Moscow soon.

Lavrov’s Serbia visit would have been the first by a high-ranking Russian official since the start of the Feb. 24 Ukraine war, and was planned in the backdrop of the EU’s ongoing efforts to punish Moscow with sanctions and other measures.

Serbia, which is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas and oil, has faced growing pressure for its neutrality over the Ukraine war and refusing to sanction Moscow.

Vucic has been walking a tightrope in recent months, on the one side expressing that sanctioning Russia would cost Belgrade dearly, while also trying to assure the EU that “Serbia is on the European path” and this was the country’s “only policy.”

Hüseyin Demir