The Malta Independent 17 July 2019, Wednesday

Russia describes Malta’s refusal to allow planes to overfly air space as ‘unfriendly’

Monday, 22 April 2019, 13:35 Last update: about 4 months ago

Russia has described Malta’s refusal to allow Russian planes from overflying in Maltese airspace as having an “unfriendly connotation”, and will take this into account in bilateral relations, a statement released by the Russian embassy says.

The statement, issued today, quotes from a briefing given last Friday by Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

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Asked about Malta’s refusal to allow planes to fly over from Russia on their way to Venezuela, Zakharova said that on 4 April Russia requested permission for two aircraft carrying passengers and freight to Venezuela to fly via Maltese air space. This, she said, was done in line with the established procedure through the Russian Embassy in Malta.

“Unfortunately, the Maltese authorities refused to allow the above-mentioned Russian aircraft to overfly the country without explaining the reasons for this decision. Although the adoption of such decisions is a sovereign right of any specific state, the decision of the Maltese authorities deviates from general accepted practice and implies a certain unfriendly connotation. We can state this. Certainly, the Russia side will take this aspect into account in its bilateral relations with Valletta.”

Zakharova also criticised reports in the Maltese media that "distort the interpretation of the Russian request and the response of the Maltese authorities to it. This also implies conjectures that Russia can respond by launching a campaign to discredit the country's leadership during or after the May 2019 elections to the European Parliament. This news is absurd," Zakharova said.

"Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Malta voices such ridiculous and absolutely groundless accusations with regard to Russia. This is called fake news in modern language," she said.

Zakhatrova said that Russia's position is that outside interference in domestic affairs of a sovereign state, regardless of their size, economic and military potentials, is unacceptable.

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