A passenger civilian plane with Russian Deputy President Dimitri Rogozin was banned from entering the Romanian airspace. In accordance with a European Union decision, Rogozin is banned from entering the EU. He was to join, together with other Russian officials, a festivity in Tiraspol, the self-declared autonomous region of Moldova, under Russian military protection. It also has an overflight ban in the US, Canada, Australia, Norway and Switzerland.
The plane has returned from the Romanian border and has landed in Minsk, Belarus. The Russian foreign ministry reacted harshly, urging the Romanian authorities for an urgent inquiry into this incident.
The protest of the Russian officials was joined by Moldovan President Igor Dodon, who accused the Romanian authorities of acting to win US favor.
This case has a precedent when, in 2014, Romania closed the airspace for Rogozin’s plane. “At the request of the United States, Romania has closed its airspace for my plane, Ukraine does not allow me to cross it again. Next time I will come aboard the TU-160,” Rogozin wrote on Twitter.
So, Romania acted in full accord with the international decisions. Then, how is it that Poland, Slovakia and Hungary have allowed Rogozin to enter their own airspace? Normally, these decisions are also made in the light of NATO’s recommendations for each specific situation. Have NATO agreed with the overflight of these countries, on the idea that Rogozin will be stopped just at the border with Romania?
Equally interesting is the lack of reaction of EU officials in this incident and against the harsh reactions of the Russian authorities towards a member country of the European Union.
Russia threatens Romania with heavy sanctions, with the total ban on Romanian airplanes in Russian space. Romania does not respond to these threats, but it strengthens its defense capability by buying the American Patriot missile system and other US military equipment, justifying these acquisitions by increasing the risk of a military conflict.
Is there any winner in this diplomatic conflict? Certainly not Romania.