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Russia to react to Bulgaria's closure of airspace to Russian Syria-bound planes — lawmaker

Russia has warned Bulgaria that it's going to react adequately to a decision to close Bulgarian airspace to Russian planes flying relief cargoes to Syria, Nikolay Levichev, the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) vice-speaker and a member of the Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs, told TASS on Tuesday.

"We will remember this unfriendly move and will find adequate answers," Levichev said. "The Bulgarian leadership which made that decision - whatever the reasons behind it could be - has joined the camp of adversaries of the existing system of international relations," the vice-speaker went on to say. "Closing access to its airspace to planes with relief cargoes for the war-torn Syria is an inhumane and clearly short-sighted act," the Russian politician stressed.

Levichev said it was paradoxical that countries under sanctions turned out to be the only custodians of principles of humanism in a modern world. "Damascus opposes radicals from the IS (Islamic State); Moscow is sending aid to Damascus and Teheran is ready to open an air corridor to Russian planes. But the West is doing nothing but putting a spoke in the wheel. The Bulgarian government stood at attention upon receiving a command from Washington," the Russian lawmaker said.

Russia has already found alternative routes for its planes but the Bulgarian people are unlikely to gain anything from their government's policy of confrontation with Russia, Levichev said.

"It was Russia that liberated Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke in the 19th century and contributed to the creation of the Bulgarian statehood. Apparently, the Bulgarian government has a short memory. But the Russian memory is good," Levichev concluded.

Bulgaria has refused to give access to its airspace to Russian planes with a relief cargo for Syria onboard, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Betina Zhoteva told TASS on Tuesday.

"We denied permission to Russian military transport planes to fly via Bulgarian airspace because we have enough information that makes us have serious doubts about the cargo onboard which may vary from what it has been declared," the spokeswoman said adding that the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry had made its decision absolutely independently.

According to media reports, the United States has also asked Greece to close the Greek airspace to Russian cargo planes bound for Syria.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 08Sep15]

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