- The Washington Times
Monday, June 6, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was forced to cancel a trip to Serbia on Monday after neighboring countries said they would close their airspace.

“The countries around Serbia have closed the channel of communication by refusing to authorize the overflight of the plane of Sergey Lavrov who was headed to Serbia,” Russian news agencies quoted ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.

Interfax quoted a Russian diplomatic source as saying: “Russian diplomacy has not yet learned how to teleport.”

Mr. Lavrov was scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Nikola Selakovic, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Serbia has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but has not joined the rest of Europe in imposing sanctions and continues to rely on Russian gas supplies.

Belgrade and Moscow have close ties, generally.

Mr. Lavrov said he would invite Mr. Selakovic to visit him in Moscow.

The Russian foreign minister berated European nations in an online press conference Monday.

“What has happened is basically a deprivation of a sovereign state’s right to conduct foreign policy. Serbia‘s international activity is blocked, at least for the moment in the direction of Russia,” the TASS Russian news agency quoted Mr. Lavrov as saying.

“We are not going to beat around the bush here,” he said. “This is another very clear and instructive demonstration of the extent to which NATO and the EU can go to use the most lowbrow ways to influence those who are guided by national interests and not ready to sacrifice their principles, their dignity in favor of the very rules that the West imposes instead of international law.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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