Russian Foreign Minister Flies to OSCE Meeting via Different Route – Bulgaria Refused to Let Spokeswoman Zakharova Through

Thursday, 30 November 2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has arrived in the North Macedonian capital for the OSCE ministerial meeting via Greece, not Bulgaria – allegedly because of Sofia's decision that the overflight permit did not apply to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

As reported by TASS Russian news agency, Lavrov had already arrived in Skopje; his plane was flying over Türkiye and Greece, although it was initially expected that the Russian Foreign Ministry's plane would fly over Bulgaria. 

"As TASS has learned, the Bulgarian side refused to allow the Russian Foreign Minister's plane to fly over if the official spokesperson for the Russian diplomatic mission, Maria Zakharova, was on board," the agency writes.

TASS allegedly has a note from the Bulgarian government stating that the permission for the Russian delegation to fly "does not apply to the director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, who is on the sanctions list".

Lavrov is also known to be under EU sanctions.

Earlier, commenting on the permit, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry clarified that it does not apply to other members of Lavrov's delegation who are under EU sanctions, as stated in the Bulgarian side's note. 

The foreign ministers of Ukraine and four EU states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – are boycotting the meeting in Skopje because of Lavrov's presence.

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