The Russian Foreign Minister denounced a “scandalous” measure by these three NATO member countries.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, denounced on Monday, June 6, the decision of Bulgaria, Northern Macedonia and Montenegro, all three NATO members, to close their airspace to prevent him from traveling to Serbia.
“The inconceivable has happened,” Lavrov said at an urgently called online press conference. “A sovereign state has been deprived of its right to exercise its foreign policy,” he added, denouncing a “scandalous” measure. Mr. Lavrov was to travel to Serbia for a two-day visit. He was supposed to meet in Belgrade with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, his foreign affairs counterpart Nikola Selakovic and the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Porfirije.
“If a visit by the Russian foreign minister is perceived in the West as a quasi-planetary threat, it apparently means that everything is very bad there,” Lavrov said ironically. He added that he had invited Mr. Selakovic to visit Russia “as soon as possible”. “Nobody will be able to destroy our relations with Serbia,” Lavrov said.
Sergei Lavrov further said that Russia would not follow the example of its “Western partners”: “As far as possible retaliation is concerned, we are not going to do anything that would further complicate the ties between peoples.”
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, also reacted to the cancellation of the trip: “Such hostile acts against our country are capable of causing certain problems (…), but they can not prevent our diplomacy from continuing its work.”
For his part, Konstantin Kossachev, deputy chairman of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, denounced a “NATO move” directed “against Russia as a state and Serbia as a state” and called for a “joint and extremely severe reaction” that would result in “practical, concrete actions.”