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Russians: We're Not Using the Bulgaria Route to Syria Anyway

  • Bulgaria has announced it has closed its airspace to Russian Emergency Ministry flights to Syria
  • Russians are saying this is bad for relations, but claim they're only flying to Syria via Turkey anyway

MOSCOW, September 8 (TASS) - Bulgaria’s decision to close its airspace for Russian planes carrying humanitarian aid for Syria does not matter much since Russia mostly uses other routes, Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee deputy chairman Vladimir Dzhabarov told TASS on Tuesday.

Since most Russian planes fly to Syria over the Caucasus and Iran, the closed airspace over Bulgaria and Greece will not have a significant meaning for Russia, he noted. "In general, yesterday’s statement on Greece arose a kind of a smile because everyone knows that Russian planes have been bypassing Ukraine, so that is why it is impossible to fly over Greece on any occasion. Planes heading for the Middle East follow the route Moscow-Transcaucasia-Turkey-Iran, and you cannot get there through Greece," Dzhabarov said.

The official dismissed allegations made by Western countries that Russia may send military cargoes to Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid. "They are humanitarian cargoes," he stressed.

Dzharabov said it is regrettable that the United States made efforts to prevent Russian planes with humanitarian aid for Syria from flying over the Balkans. "It is better to provide assistance at the spot so that people stay there than to create migration problems for Europe," he said. "The fact that Bulgaria was the first to respond [to US request] will be on their conscience," he noted.

Sofia’s decision to close its airspace for Russian cargo planes with humanitarian aid for Syria undermined Russian-Bulgarian relations, State Duma’s Committee on International Affairs first deputy chairman Leonid Kalashnikov said on Tuesday.

"From the point of view of bilateral relations, this decision is just outrageous. It is not even about reciprocal measures that Russia will in any case take against Bulgaria. It will undermine our future relations whenever they improve," Kalashnikov said.

Sofia’s decision represents "fulfillment of master’s demands by a vassal," he said. "The United States is probably trying to close the airspace for us to fly to the Middle East. Someone stands their ground, like Greece, and such weaklings as Bulgaria, whom we defended against Turkish invaders some time ago, do not remember any good," he added.

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