Moscow Fumes Over Plans To Exclude Russia From Security Body

Russia has claimed that Western countries made bold attempts to prevent its officials from attending the annual ministerial conference of the pan-European security body OSCE.

Africa Today News, New York gathered that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, under European sanctions, had to ask permission to fly over EU airspace to attend the two-day meeting, which begins on Thursday (today) in the North Macedonian capital Skopje.

Lavrov’s attendance prompted Ukraine and the Baltic nations to announce they would not attend the meeting, citing Russia’s offensive in Ukraine as justification for its exclusion.

“We see attempts by part of the West to do everything possible to hinder our country’s normal participation at this meeting,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

She accused some countries — without naming them — of threatening “the very existence of the organisation, just to satisfy their ambitions.”

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Africa Today News, New York recalls that when Poland hosted the annual meeting late last year, it did not allow Lavrov into the country, sparking an angry response from Moscow.

But Bulgaria said it would open its airspace to the Russian minister, making a diplomatic exemption to European skies being closed to Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

This triggered furious reactions from Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said he would attend the meeting in Skopje, but would not meet Lavrov directly.

In another report, foreigners entering Russia could be required to sign a “loyalty agreement” upon arrival, pledging not to criticise Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, under new rules being prepared by the interior ministry.

Russia has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent and ahead of a 2024 presidential election, expected to prolong President Vladimir Putin’s long rule until at least 2030.

Africa Today News, New York

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