Tsipras, Putin agree to boost bilateral cooperation

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday agreed to boost bilateral ties in a telephone conversation during which the latter invited the new Greek premier to an event in Moscow in May to mark the victory over Nazism.

The two men agreed to boost cooperation in the economy and energy, tourism, culture and transport sectors. They also agreed on the need to “secure peace and stability in Ukraine,” according to a statement from Tsipras’s office. Putin expressed satisfaction at Greece’s stance at a recent summit in Brussels where Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias conveyed concerns over the prospect of additional sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Sources rebuffed rumors about financial support for Greece from Russia, noting that the government was looking toward its European partners for support. The two men also discussed the possible creation of a pipeline to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe via Turkey and Greece.

Meanwhile Defense Minister Panos Kammenos responded to comments by his German peer Ursula von der Leyen, according to which Greece was jeopardizing its position in NATO with its stance vis-a-vis Russia. Kammenos called her comments “unacceptable and extortionate,” noting “Greece was always on the side of the Allies when they pushed back German occupation troops.”