September 28, 2022
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's trip to Serbia was abruptly canceled on Sunday after three countries bordering the Balkan nation closed their airspace to the Russian diplomat's plane.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Serbia was abruptly canceled on Sunday after three countries bordering the Balkan nation closed their airspace to the Russian diplomat’s plane.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday confirmed reports that Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro did not allow permission for the overflight of the aircraft carrying Lavrov to the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reportedly called the move “another closed channel of communication.”

“The countries bordering Serbia have closed the only air route to the aircraft of Sergey Lavrov who was to depart for Serbia. The Russian delegation was scheduled to hold talks in Belgrade, while the EU and NATO member-countries have closed their airspace,” Zakharova told an Italian television station, according to Tass.

“Our diplomacy has not yet mastered the ability to teleport,” a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said of the incident, according to the Russian news outlet Interfax.

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Lavrov had been scheduled to visit Serbia June 6-7. Before the trip was canceled, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic was reportedly having to handle the “extremely complicated” flight logistics.

“It is really unbelievable that the situation in Europe and in the world is such that the president of one of the countries has to deal with such things as the logistics of the flight of the minister of foreign affairs [of another country], on which it depends whether he gets there or not,” Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told a Serbian media outlet about the situation with Lavrov’s flight.

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Serbia has close ties with Russia and has not joined Western sanctions against the Kremlin over the invasion of Ukraine. Russia and Serbia reached an agreement last month on natural gas shipments to Serbia amid Russian President Vladimir Putin cutting off other countries for refusing to pay for the gas in roubles.

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