Moscow warned Nicosia on Wednesday that increasing military cooperation with the US to counter Russian influence in the region will “inevitably lead to dangerous and destabilizing consequences for Cyprus itself.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said yesterday that Moscow “will have to take response measures in case of a military buildup by the US in Cyprus.”
Zakharova made her comments just two days before a visit to Moscow by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and almost two weeks before the trilateral summit between Greece, Israel and Cyprus, which is being backed by the US.
On Tuesday, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said he was expecting the US to express interest in taking part in the trilateral energy cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel.
Zakharova said that Moscow has information that Washington is seeking to build up its military presence on the island.
“The aim is not being hidden – to counter growing Russian influence in the region in the light of the successful operation by the Russian military in Syria,” she said.
Her remarks prompted Cyprus Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides to contact his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in a bid to defuse tensions, while Cyprus government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that “it was never was our aim, nor is it now, to militarize Cyprus.”
Meanwhile, Greece’s Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos arrived in Moscow on Wednesday ahead of Tsipras’s visit, saying that Athens is making a conscious effort to improve ties with Russia.
According to Russian media reports, when questioned whether Athens can mediate between Brussels and Moscow, Katrougalos said, “Our home is the European Union and we follow the rules.”
“But these rules do not include Russophobia,” he reportedly added.