Lavrov’s visit to Serbia was discussed even before the announcement of the official visit was made. Following the official announcement of the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit and talks with counterpart Vladimir Putin, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Lavrov would bring the necessary documentation to Belgrade on June 6th to sign the agreement on Russian gas.
But the visit did not take place due to the closure of the airspace by Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the plane that was to take Lavrov to Belgrade. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic assessed that the ban on the flight of the Russian Foreign Minister’s plane is not a big surprise, but the problem, as he stated, is in small countries, which see that they can do nothing to Russia so they take revenge on Serbia.”
He expressed “dissatisfaction” with the “circumstances” that prevented the visit, adding that Serbia “will nevertheless retain its independence and autonomy in political decision-making”.
Due to his failed visit to Serbia, Lavrov found the guilt in NATO member states. He said Montenegro, Bulgaria and North Macedonia are members of NATO, stressing that the move once again showed that the main purpose of expanding the alliance is an attempt to isolate Russia.
He also said that the West has violated the principle of free choice of foreign policy partners.
“From a Western point of view, Serbia should have no choice, no freedom in choosing a partner,” he said.
Serbia’s pro-Russian Interior Minister, Aleksandar Vulin, expressed “deep regret” in Belgrade that Serbia’s “great and proven” friend could not come. Vulin added that Serbia is proud that it is not part of the anti-Russian hysteria.
Due to the Russian occupation of Ukraine, which is counting more than 100 days, the West imposed sanctions on Moscow, including a ban on the use of Union airspace.
One of the few European countries where Russian planes can land is Serbia, which has not joined sanctions against Russia.
It is estimated that Lavrov’s visit to Serbia is part of Russian propaganda, in order for that country to prove that there is still a state (Serbia) in Europe where Russian diplomats can stay.
Former Serbian Ambassador to Belaru, Srecko Djukic, has said that Belgrade and Serbia know well what sanctions mean and how they should be respected, and how impossible it is to break, destroy and ignore them.
“On one hand, it is a reality in which Russia lives and it must be taught to live in that reality, and on the other hand, Serbia must understand that it can not be against the whole world and can not be against the European Union.” said Djukic.
He added that it is clear that Russia cares a lot about Serbia and Republika Srpska and that, according to him, these are the only territories where it still has influence in Europe and with which it can still manipulate.
Following the cancellation of Lavrov’s visit to Serbia, Russian diplomat Sergei Ordzhonikidze threatened that Russia could expel the ambassadors of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Bulgaria due to the situation with the Russian Foreign Minister.
“I think the reaction should be stronger, because they prevented a senior official of our state from performing his diplomatic duty. “This is a political step of anti-Russian orientation,” he said.
Although formally still seeking membership in the European Union, Serbia maintains friendly ties with Russia despite the occupation of Ukraine, refusing to join Western sanctions against Moscow. Also, many in Serbia see Russia as a close ally and a great friend. / The Geopost