Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov plans to travel to Macedonia later this week to attend a conference, a trip that would mark his first visit to a NATO member country since Moscow sent troops to Ukraine.
Russia is one of the 57 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, set up during the Cold War to help defuse East-West tensions.
Macedonia, which holds the group’s rotating chairmanship, last week invited Lavrov to an OSCE foreign ministers’ meeting that starts Thursday in Skopje.
NATO members banned Russian flights after Moscow launched its military action in Ukraine in February 2022. To reach Macedonia, Lavrov’s plane would need to fly through the airspace of Bulgaria or Greece, which also belong to the Western military alliance.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said it has granted permission for the overflight of Lavrov’s plane through Bulgarian airspace.
The permission was granted on a request from Macedonia “for participation in the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the OSCE in Skopje to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and falls under the exceptions from the application of the EU sanctions regime against him,” the statement read.
The permission, however, “does not apply to members of his delegation, who are also sanctioned persons, according to the current EU law, which is explicitly mentioned in the reply note of the Bulgarian side.”