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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.
Bulgaria has earlier closed its airspace to Russian cargo planes with relief aid for Syria. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has confirmed earlier reports by Greek mass media to this effect. "A corresponding notification was sent in response to Russia’s request last weekend," Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Betina Zhoteva told TASS.
"We denied permission to let Russian military-transport planes cross Bulgarian territory because on the basis of the available information we have reasonable doubts the cargoes are not the declared ones. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry made that decision of its own accord," Zhoteva said.
Greece earlier received a request from the United States to close its air space for Russian aircraft making flights to Syria with humanitarian cargoes.
On Monday, Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov it was too early provide any comment on the United States’ request to Greece to close its air space for Russian aircraft making humanitarian flights to Syria.
"There was a corresponding statement by our Greek partners who said they were considering this request," the Kremlin spokesman said. "It is too early to speak about that until we have any reaction.".