Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova dubbed the reports of a possible retaliation by Russia against Malta over the failure to issue an overflying permit for its aircraft en-route to Venezuela, as ‘absurd’ and ‘fake news’. The spokesperson said that Russia had tracked the information which said that Russia is expected to retaliate by launching a campaign to discredit Malta’s leadership during or after the upcoming elections, and described them as ‘baseless and groundless’. The spokesperson said that such claims are termed ‘fake news’. The incident was reported by Buzzfeed, and with whom a senior diplomat described as a source had told the news site that Russia is expected to retaliate with a misinformation campaign during the upcoming elections or after.
Zakharova said that Malta’s decision to refuse granting permission to its military aircraft to use Malta’s airspace on 4 April without providing an explanation had “unfriendly connotations”. The spokesperson further said that Malta’s decision will be accounted for when considering bilateral relations between the two nations.
US State Department lauds Malta for refusing innocent passage to Russian aircraft
American State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, had lauded Malta for not allowing Russian military aircraft to fly through its airspace whilst laden with provisions for the Venezuelan regime.
In a twitter message, Ortagus appealed for our countries to take a page from Malta’s book and take a stance against the Kremlin and its support for the Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro .
We applaud the government of #Malta for refusing to allow Russian planes to use its airspace to supply the brutal former regime in #Venezuela. We call on all countries to follow Malta’s example to stop the Kremlin’s support for the dictator Maduro. #EstamosUnidosVE @MFAMalta
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) April 19, 2019
In the past days, BuzzFeed News has reported that the Russian Federation is expected to retaliate against Malta for its decision.
According to BuzzFeed News, they have been informed by a “senior diplomatic source” that “Russia has not taken the rejections well” and payback this might manifest through a misinformation campaign against Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during or after the European Parliament elections in May.