Sceberras Trigona meets Moscow minister after Malta denies military airspace request

PM’s envoy Alex Sceberras Trigona met Russia’s deputy foreign minister in Moscow to discuss “issues of concern and ways to resolve them” the day reports came in that Malta prevented Russian aircraft from using its airspace

The Russian Embassy in Malta said on Tuesday that Alex Sciberras Trigona had discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and the main issues of concern
The Russian Embassy in Malta said on Tuesday that Alex Sciberras Trigona had discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and the main issues of concern

The Prime Minister’s envoy Alex Sceberras Trigona held a meeting with Russia’s deputy Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Grushko, the day reports came in that Malta was refusing the Russian military use of its airspace.

According to the Russian Embassy in Malta, Sceberras Trigona held the meeting on Monday 15 April in Moscow with the deputy minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Alexander Grushko, and was described as the special representative of the Prime Minister.

It said that the two had reviewed “bilateral interaction”, “main issues of concern, as well as ways to resolve them”.

“Some topics of the international agenda were touched on, in particular, the situation in relations between Russia and the EU, the OSCE, the Council Europe,” the statement continued.

When contacted for comment, Sceberras Trigona initially said he was abroad, but refused to comment on whether he had met with Grushko.

READ MORE: Malta refuses airspace to Russian military planes headed for Venezuela

A foreign ministry spokesperson directed questions about the meeting to the Office of the Prime Minister, describing Sceberras Trigona as a special envoy under the OPM’s purview.

MaltaToday has also asked whether there was any clear knowledge at government levels of the Sceberras Trigona meeting in Moscow.

Questions were also sent to Malta's ambassador to Russia Pierre Clive Agius who said replies were being coordinated by the Foreign Ministry.

The news came a day after Buzzfeed reported that Malta refused a Russian request to use its airspace to fly military aircraft from Syria to Venezuela this month. It reported that “the move comes weeks after Malta, a member of the European Union, approved a similar Russian request”.

Buzzfeed quoted a senior diplomat saying that the new request from Russian was made through its embassy in Malta last week, asking for clearance to fly two military aircraft over Malta between 16 and 19 April.

The website claimed that a senior diplomatic source suggested that Russia had not taken the rejections well and that the country was expected to retaliate by targeting Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with a misinformation campaign during or after next month's parliamentary election campaign.

Government sources who spoke to MaltaToday confirmed Buzzfeed's claims that two flights had been denied permission to use Maltese airspace.

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