Romanian official: Russian deputy PM tried to flout EU ban

Romanian official: Russian deputy PM tried to flout EU ban

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Russia's deputy prime minister "deliberately" tried to enter Romanian airspace despite knowing he is on a list of officials banned from the European Union, Romania's foreign minister said Monday.

"In my opinion, it was a deliberate act to create problems between Romania and Russia," the minister, Teodor Melescanu, told the news channel Antena 3.

Russian Deputy Premier Dmitry Rogozin abandoned a trip to Moldova Friday after his plane was barred from entering Romanian and Hungarian airspace. Both countries are EU members.

Rogozin is one of the most senior Russian officials who was slapped with an EU visa ban in 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

He was traveling on a commercial flight to the Moldovan capital, Chisinau. The plane had to land in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, because it was running out of fuel after being diverted.

In a tweet Rogozin said that Romanian authorities "put lives of the passengers, women and children at risk" by forcing the plane to divert. He warned the Romanian government: "You wait for an answer, bastards!"

Melescanu denied that Romanian authorities had endangered lives. He said he believed Rogozin wanted to show that the EU sanctions barring Russians from transiting or visiting EU countries don't work.

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