Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov plans to attend a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from November 30 to December 1.
To facilitate Lavrov’s trip, Bulgaria and North Macedonia have agreed to temporarily suspend a ban on Russian planes flying in their airspace. The invitation has prompted Ukraine and the Baltic states to boycott the OSCE meeting.
Russia is one of the 57 members of the OSCE but was not invited to the organization’s meeting last year in Poland because Warsaw refused to issue visas for the Russian delegation. North Macedonia’s foreign minister, Bujar Osmani, defended inviting Russia to this year’s meeting, comparing it to Lavrov attending the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Lavrov is not coming to Skopje, in a way. Lavrov is coming to the OSCE just as he went to (the) UN in New York a few months ago,” Osmani said. “I won’t be meeting him as the foreign minister of North Macedonia, but as the OSCE chairman in office.”
The US is also a participating member of the OSCE and is sending a delegation to North Macedonia that will be led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. But Lavrov said the US has not requested to hold talks during the summit and that “there will be no meeting.”
Blinken has refused to engage in diplomacy with Russia over the Ukraine war and has only spoken with Lavrov three known times since the Russian invasion to discuss other issues. One of the conversations was a brief 10-minute chat on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in New Delhi in March 2023.
The Russian invitation to the OSCE comes amid growing signs of waning Western support for Ukraine as it’s become clear Ukrainian forces cannot break through Russia’s defenses, which Ukraine’s top general has acknowledged.