Cyprus' foreign minister has rejected Russian claims that the US is looking to set up a military base on the east Mediterranean island as a bulwark against expanding Russian influence in the region.
Nikos Christodoulides told private TV station Sigma on Friday that he called his Russian counterpart to convey Cyprus' "grave concern" over the remarks from Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
The remarks, he said "didn't correspond with reality" and had breached "diplomatic decorum."
Christodoulides said Cyprus receives many foreign government requests to act as a potential waystation for evacuated citizens in case of a regional crisis.
Zakharova also said Wednesday Moscow had warned Cyprus that attempts to bring the country into US and NATO plans for the region would entail "retaliatory action." [AP]