Serbia to cut number of flights to Moscow after criticism – WFTV
BELGRADE, Serbia — (AP) — AirSerbia will return to one flight a day to Moscow, Serbia’s president has said, following criticism that the country’s flag carrier is violating a European Union-wide ban on flights to Russia and profit from the war in Ukraine.
Since the start of the Russian invasion more than two weeks ago, AirSerbia has doubled the number of flights to the Russian capital and introduced larger planes to increase the number of seats for what has become its most profitable destination.
Apart from some Turkish carriers, the Serbian airline is the only European company to have continued to fly to Russia since the announcement of the ban on international flights after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. This sparked criticism from the EU and Ukraine.
“Serbia is the only one in Europe that has an open sky over Russia,” Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar tweeted. “Making money on (Ukrainian) blood is unworthy of an EU candidate country.”
Populist Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said AirSerbia would resume one flight to Moscow a day after “the witch hunt” against his country.
“And will those who lead the hunt against Serbia in the framework of the flights to the capital of Russia be satisfied with this?” Vucic asked during a TV interview last night.
Referring to Turkey, he complained that “no one will touch those in NATO, who are partly in Europe and partly in Asia, and have 30 times more flights to Moscow than Serbia.”
Vucic did not say when the reduction in flights will begin. Two AirSerbia flights were scheduled for Moscow on Sunday.
Despite formally applying for EU membership, Serbia has refused to introduce international sanctions against its ally Russia. EU officials have repeatedly warned Serbia that it will have to align itself with the bloc’s foreign policy if it wants to join.
Mainstream state-controlled media in Serbia indiscriminately broadcast Moscow’s war propaganda, creating a strong pro-Putin mood among ultranationalists and far-right groups in Serbia.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.