Contrary to what has recently been announced, Air Serbia has been pressured by the European Union (EU) and Ukraine into backtracking its decision to double flights to Moscow.
1. Slashing flights to Moscow
After announcing that it would double its flights to Moscow, Air Serbia will go back to one flight a day to the Russian capital, according to the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Making money on (Ukrainian) blood is unworthy of an EU candidate country.Emine Dzheppar, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister
Serbia’s decision to expand flights to Russia was met with criticism that the country’s national carrier was busting a EU-wide ban on flights to Russia and profiting from the war in Ukraine.
“Serbia is the only one in Europe with an open sky to Russia,” Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar said on Twitter. “Making money on (Ukrainian) blood is unworthy of an EU candidate country.”
Beside some Turkish carriers, Serbia’s airline is the only European company that has kept on flying to Russia since the international flight ban was announced after the military escalation in Ukraine. Both the EU and Ukraine have reacted with anger towards Serbian’s decision. Following “the witch hunt“ against his country, Vucic responded that AirSerbia will go back to one flight a day to Moscow.
Finland’s state-owned railway operator VR said its two daily trains from St Petersburg to Helsinki are fully booked with 700 passengers arriving daily, reported exyuaviation. However, due to Russian Covid-19 restrictions, only Finnish and Russian citizens are allowed on the trains.
2. Double standards with Turkey
Serbia’s president launched a provocative question during a TV interview on 13 March: “And will those who are leading the chase against Serbia in connection with the flights to the capital of Russia be satisfied with that?”.
Referring to Turkey, Vucic 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.”
Serbia has refused to introduce international sanctions against Russia, despite formally seeking EU membership. EU officials have repeatedly warned Belgrade that it will have to align itself with the bloc’s foreign policies if it wants to join.