"Logistical difficulties": Serbia's neighbors prevent Lavrov from flying to Belgrade

Before Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov meets Erdogan, he is supposed to exchange views with the political leadership in Belgrade.

"Logistical difficulties": Serbia's neighbors prevent Lavrov from flying to Belgrade

Before Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov meets Erdogan, he is supposed to exchange views with the political leadership in Belgrade. They had just extended gas deliveries from Moscow. According to the Russian report, nothing will come of it, since Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro do not want to release their airspace.

According to the Russian news agency Interfax, a visit by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Belgrade, which was planned for Monday, failed due to resistance from several of Serbia's neighboring countries. Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro have refused the Russian government plane a flight through their airspace, the state news agency quoted a high-ranking official at the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic had told the Pink TV channel that the situation surrounding Lavrov's visit was "extraordinarily complicated". She pointed to "logistical" difficulties, particularly with regard to overflight rights on the route of the Russian chief diplomat. Because of the Ukrainian war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU and other countries have closed their airspace to Russian aircraft.

According to the plans so far, Lavrov will meet President Aleksandar Vucic, Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic and the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Porfirye, in Serbia before continuing to Turkey on Tuesday. Brnabic said Vucic held talks "with representatives of Russia, the US, Germany and the EU" in preparation for Lavrov's visit.

Serbia is applying for EU membership, but has traditionally maintained good relations with Russia. While the EU is heading towards a significant reduction in Russian energy supplies in response to the Ukraine war and recently agreed on a far-reaching oil embargo against Russia, Serbia continues to rely on close cooperation with Russia in this area. In May, Vucic agreed in a telephone call with Krem boss Vladimir Putin to extend Russian gas supplies by three years at low prices. It was "by far the best deal in Europe," the Serbian president said at the time.

Serbia is almost entirely dependent on Russian energy supplies and imports around six million cubic meters of gas from Russia every day. Moscow also owns a majority stake in the Serbian oil and gas company NIS. Serbia has condemned the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. At the same time, however, Belgrade does not want to break with Moscow and refuses to join the EU sanctions against Russia.

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