On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Montenegro was withholding its permission to let Russian planes evacuate Russian tourists stuck there amid closed borders due to COVID-19. Zakharova said it was because Montenegro expected Russia to arrange for the evacuation of Montenegrin nationals on its territory back home in exchange. Later, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Montenegro said that Montenegro had agreed in principle to the evacuation of Russian nationals from its territory.
“More than 150 people have left Montenegro”, the embassy said.
The information has already been confirmed by the Montenegrin government.
“In this difficult time for the whole world, Montenegro doesn't think only of its citizens. The plane with Russian citizens departed tonight from Podgorica to Russia. Happy return home!” the government wrote on its Twitter page.
In this difficult time for the whole world #Montenegro🇲🇪 doesn't think only of its citizens. The plane with Russian citizens departed tonight from Podgorica to #Russia🇷🇺. Happy return home! #CoronaInfoCG #Covid_19 @MupCg @MFA_MNE pic.twitter.com/nug7ce5eIT— Govt. of Montenegro (@MeGovernment) March 18, 2020
There are currently about 1,800 Russian tourists in Montenegro. The Russian embassy said that on Thursday, the evacuation of Russian citizens from the Balkan republic would be continued with charter flights of S7 and Pobeda airlines.
“Dear friends! We have reached agreements that starting from 19 March the flights of S7 and Pobeda airlines from Montenegro to Russia will be organized. The Russian airlines have got the permission of the Montenegrin authorities”, the embassy wrote on its Facebook page.
The planes with Russian tourists on board will take off from the airport of Podgorica.
On Tuesday, Montenegro confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19, which urged the country to suspend air, road and rail traffic to the country.