Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov demanded clarifications from Sofia on its decision to block Bulgarian airspace to Russian planes. Last week, NATO member Bulgaria refused permission for an unspecified number of Russian aircraft to cross its airspace. "The planes were said to carry humanitarian aid but we had information that the declared cargo was not the real one," foreign ministry spokeswoman Betina Zhoteva said.
She denied pressure from NATO partners. DEBKAfile adds: This sharp exchange reflected the acceleration of the Russian military buildup in Syria and growing US attempts to stem this development. Washington earlier asked Greece, Turkey and Cyprus to ban Russian supply flights to Syria from its airspace.