Malta has been applauded by the United States after it denied airspace to two Russian military planes which were flying from Syria to Venezuela.
“We applaud the government of Malta for refusing to allow Russian planes to use its airspace to supply the brutal former regime in Venezuela,” Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, tweeted. “We call on all countries to follow Malta’s example to stop the Kremlin’s support for the dictator Maduro.”
We are trying hard to keep your hands away from trigger. So keep applauding – at least it’s harmless.
— MFA Russia ???????? (@mfa_russia) April 19, 2019
A spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry instantly swiped back.
“We are trying hard to keep your hands away from trigger. So keep applauding – at least it’s harmless.”
Malta this week denied airspace to two Russian planes, which were transporting food, diesel generator sets and other supplies to Venezuela, which is in the midst of an economic and political crisis marked by food and medical shortages, prolonged power outages and deadly protests.
However, Malta and Russia are on different sides of the fence in the Venezuela conflict. While Russia is supporting Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro, Malta, along with the rest of the EU, the USA and other Western and Latin American countries, officially recognises the legitimacy of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president last January.
A spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry criticised the Maltese government’s decision as “not friendly” and said that Russia will take it into account “within the framework of bilateral relations with with Valletta.”
MaltaToday reported today that Alex Sceberras Trigona, special envoy of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, is proposing that Malta should hold a summit between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
This would mark the 30th anniversary of the Malta Summit between George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, which effectively signalled the end of the Cold War. However, Sceberras Trigona’s proposal has apparently not gone down well with the USA or Russia and MaltaToday reported that staff at the Maltese Foreign Affairs Ministry were not even informed that the envoy had travelled to Moscow to speak to Russia’s deputy foreign affairs minister Alexander Grushko.