Serbia has announced that it will reduce the number of flights to Moscow, from its territory, after criticism from neighboring countries that it is taking advantage of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine on February 24, most European countries have suspended flights to Russia and Russian airlines, but not to Serbia. The latter has doubled its service to Moscow and put its flagship Airbus A330-200 in the sky on weekdays when the plane is not flying to or from New York, SchengeVisaInfo.com reports.
Despite the occupation of Ukraine, Serbia is among the few European countries that have not followed suit, leaving the air corridor open to Russia.
In response, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Emin Djiba said in a tweet on Twitter on March 15 that Serbia is the only country in Europe with open skies for Russia.
She pointed out that “making money from blood is not appropriate for a candidate country to join the European Union.”
Otherwise, Belgrade’s Air Serbia doubled its flights to Moscow to increase demand due to the decision of European Union countries to stop Russian airlines from their airspace.
After much criticism of his country, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that Air Serbia would return to one flight to Moscow.
Speaking to Turkey, President Vucic also said that since it is partly in Europe and partly in Asia, its flights to Moscow are 30 times more than its flights to Serbia, and no one in NATO will touch it.
Despite Serbia’s bid to join the European Union, its authorities have refused to impose sanctions on Russia, so many analysts believe the decision may delay their country’s EU membership as Serbia’s foreign policy does not appear to be in line with that of the EU.
According to ForwardKeys, as of the first week of March, capacity between Russia and Serbia has increased by 50 percent, compared to the week before Russia invaded Ukraine, while capacity is expected to increase further in the coming weeks.
When the Russian army invaded Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Moldova were among the first countries to impose a ban on Russian airlines.
Similarly, Baltic states such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have banned Russian airlines from entering their airspace.
On 14 March, nine members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, demanding an immediate halt to the negotiations. with Serbia for membership in the European Union.
According to MEPs, the Serbian authorities have ignored the commitments made as a candidate country for EU membership, as one of the violations committed by Serbia was the refusal to impose sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression against Ukraine.
However, despite refusing to impose restrictions on Russia, some 12,500 Ukrainian refugees have been registered in Serbia in the past 24 hours.