Sergey Lavrov says the actions of NATO states that prevented him from reaching Serbia are unthinkable.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed NATO and the EU for using the lowest means to pressure other countries. After Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro closed their airspace for the diplomat s plane bound for Serbia, the statement came after the country closed its airspace.
Lavrov said on Monday when asked to comment on the decision taken by Serbia's neighbors, the unthinkable has happened.
The closure of airspace by Sofia, Skopje and Podgorica amounts to depriving a sovereign state of the right to carry out its foreign policy, he pointed out.
The FM said that Serbia's international activities have been blocked in the Russian direction.
We won't mince words here, but it is yet another vivid and didactic demonstration of how far NATO and the EU can go in employing the lowest means to pressure those who aren't guided by their national interests and aren't ready to sacrifice their principles and dignity for the sake of the rules that the West is imposing as a substitute for international law, Lavrov said.
The diplomat suggested that things are not very bad in the West if it considers the Russian foreign minister's visit to Serbia as almost a universal threat.
The foreign minister also said that his Serbian counterpart, Nikola Selakovic, had been invited to come to Moscow soon, and he hoped that the EU wouldn't hamper him in doing so.
The closure of airspace for Lavrov's plane has been described as hostile to our country, according to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov. He said they could only create some discomfort for Russian diplomacy, but wouldn't prevent it from doing its job.
Vechernie Novosti, Serbia's media outlet, was the first to report on the move by Sofia, Skopje and Podgorica on Sunday.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told an Italian outlet that members of the EU and NATO shut down their airspace and shut down another communication channel with Moscow.
The three countries in question are members of the NATO. Bulgaria is currently part of the European Union, while North Macedonia and Montenegro are the only candidates to join the bloc.
The EU has decided to shut down its airspace for Russian planes as a part of the sanctions in response to the military operation launched by Moscow in Ukraine in late February. The 27-member union has been active in supporting Kiev with weapons, aid and funds during the ongoing conflict.
Lavrov was due to visit Serbia on Monday and Tuesday, Russia's main ally in the Balkans. According to Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, President Aleksandar Vucic personally was involved in sorting out the logistics of the Russian foreign minister's trip. It's unbelievable that a president has to be involved in such a situation in Europe, Brnabic pointed out.
Vucic is going to address the Serbian nation later on Monday on Lavrov's visit.
Deputy Speaker of Russia's Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev expressed hope that Moscow and Belgrade would come up with a joint and most stiff reaction to the actions of Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro that would include not only diplomatic protests but also practical steps.
He insisted that it wasn't an independent move by those three nations, as by joining NATO they ve given up on their sovereignty for good, echoing Lavrov's words. The senator said that we were talking about a NATO-led demarche, which could not have happened without US involvement.