CHISINAU, May 10 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said he had returned to Moscow from Moldova’s breakaway Transdniestrian Republic even though his plane had been forced by Ukrainian interceptors to fly back to Chisinau.
“Ukrainian interceptor aircraft forced our plane to make a U-turn,” Rogozin wrote in his Twitter account on Saturday, May 10.
Several minutes later he added: “But the defence industry has its own trails. I am already in Moscow. And the [Kiev] junta left in the basket.” To prove his words, Rogozin posted a photo of himself against the building of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.
The Russian Embassy in Chisinau told ITAR-TASS that Rogozin must have travelled to Russia by a regular flight and was not on the plane intercepted over Ukraine.
Rogozin’s plane had to return to Chisinau on after having flown into Ukraine’s airspace on the way to Moscow.
The plane, Yak-42 of the RUSJET airline, tail number 9602, flew out of Chisinau, entered Ukraine’s airspace, flew several kilometres into it, made a U-turn and flew back to Chisinau, according to the Flightradar-24 air traffic monitoring system.
“Romania has closed its airspace for my plane on U.S. demand. Ukraine is not letting us through again,” Rogozin said and stressed, however, that he was not going to cancel trips to Transdniestria. “Next time I will fly by Tupolev-160 [strategic bomber],” he said.
Ukraine closed its airspace for flights to and from Crimea and landings in Sevastopol since the peninsula’s accession to Russia in March of this year. The airspace over Crimea is now controlled by Russia and its aviation authorities.
Rogozin also experienced difficulty getting to Transdniestria two days ago. His plane en route to Chisinau was not allowed to enter Ukraine’s airspace on May 8, and had to take a detour via Bulgaria and Romania.
“As it turned out, it will take four and a half hours to get to Chisinau via Bulgaria and Romania. Ukraine is not letting us in,” Rogozin wrote on Twitter.
“It’s good that Ukraine is not Russia. Otherwise, the bypass would have taken 20 hours or so,” he added.
His plane pilot told him afterward that Bulgarian and Romanian air traffic controlled had asked him if there was “a banned passenger” aboard. “They were going to get interceptor aircraft up in the air,” Rogozin said.
He wrote on Facebook that Romania had closed its airspace because of the EU sanctions and that Ukraine “would not issue permits for RUSJET flights because of the gross violation of the rules regulating the use of Ukraine’s airspace, specifically the landing in the closed airport of Simferopol”.
Meanwhile, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, who was in Transdniestria as a member of the government delegation, cannot return to Moscow.
“Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, members of the State Duma [lower house of the Russian parliament] and government were in Transdniestria on a visit,” Medinsky told ITAR-TASS by phone. On the way back, their plane flew into Ukraine’s airspace, made a U-turn and returned to Chisinau.
“At first Ukraine allowed us to fly through its airspace but then the pilot was ordered to leave it. Otherwise, he was threatened to be forced to land. This is a gross violation of international law and complete ignorance of law,” the minister said.
Medinsky is now in Moldova. “I hope the situation will be worked out,” he added.
Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Ties with Compatriots Leonid Slutsky, who was also on the delegation, said, “We flew [back] by the same plane we came with Dmitry Rogozin, but on the border with Ukraine we were forced to make a U-turn and land in Chisinau without explanation.”
He said Rogozin had left for Moscow earlier by a regular flight.
“Ukraine did not explain the reason. Our guess is that there are key Russian politicians aboard. But there have been no official explanations,” Slutsky said, adding that travelling with him were Culture Minister Medinsky, Duma deputies Sergei Zhikharev and Alexei Zhuravlev, the Duma speaker’s adviser Mikhail Krotov, and Ambassador at Large Sergei Gubarev.
“Romania has categorically closed its airspace and Ukraine is not letting us fly through [its territory], but there is no other way to fly out of Moldova,” Zhuravlev said.
The other side has explained its actions by the fact that there are persons aboard the plane who have been prohibited from entering the European Union, he said. “They are trying to block our departure from Moldova by all means and so far have given no clear explanations because entering a country and flying over it are different things,” the MP said.
The delegation led by Rogozin was in Transdniestria to participate in celebrations marking the 69th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War.