Russia’s Lavrov forced to cancel Serbia visit after neighboring countries close

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Serbia Monday has been canceled, Russia’s state-run Interfax press agency reported Sunday, after neighboring countries reportedly closed their airspace to his plane.

Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro had all banned Lavrov’s plane from their airspace, Serbian newspaper Danas reported. “Our diplomacy has yet to master teleportation,” a Russia foreign ministry source quipped to Interfax.

The three countries banned Russian flights from their airspace as the results of sanctions against Moscow, which has waged war on Ukraine. But at least one exception was made in April, when a Russian place flew through Bulgaria to pick up Russian diplomats from Serbia.

Lavrov’s visit was announced after Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said his country had struck an “extremely favorable” natural gas deal with Moscow. Instead of meeting with the Russian foreign minister, Vučić, who has maintained cozy relations with President Vladimir Putin for years, will meet with his ambassador to Belgrade, Danas reported.

Serbia, a candidate for EU accession, has refused to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

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