A Russian Ilyushin-Il-96-300 passenger plane flew from Sochi to Belgrade via Bulgaria on Sunday morning, despite the country officially closing its airspace to Russian planes in February, Belgrade television N1 reported.
Petar Vojinović, the editor of the TangoSix portal, explained for N1 that the EU has, despite the sanctions, left open the possibility that thefts take place for humanitarian reasons and certain diplomatic reasons.
According to data published on the flightradar24.com website, the plane took off from Sochi around 8 a.m. and landed at Belgrade airport around 9:30 a.m.
There is no information about this flight on the website of Nikola Tesla airport, where the Russian plane landed. However, people posted pictures of the plane on the Belgrade airport runway on Instagram.
The plane took off from Belgrade airport around 1:30 p.m., according to flightradar24.
According to data available online, such thefts have been ongoing since the start of the war in Ukraine. Serbia, one of the few European countries still maintaining air traffic with Russia, let Russian diplomats declare persona non grata in the countries they served on aircraft.
According to Flightradar24, the same plane flew April 17 from Moscow to Copenhagen, but pilots at the time avoided flying over counties that closed their airspace to Russia.
Serbia has so far failed and refused to align with EU sanctions against Russia. President Aleksander Vucic also refrained from condemning the invasion of Ukraine. Several pro-Russian protests have also taken place in the capital of Belgrade over the past two months.