Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos gave an indirect, yet negative response to a request by visiting US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland on Monday regarding the possibility of Greece providing more weapons systems to Ukraine.
Panagiotopoulos stressed that Greece cannot contribute in a way that reduces Greece’s defense capabilities.
The American request was made during their meeting at the Defense Ministry in Athens while Nuland acknowledged the Greek contribution so far.
Kathimerini had revealed on March 17 that the Greeks had been sounded out for systems developed in the former Eastern bloc, including Tor-M1 and Osa-AK surface-to-air missile systems.
Athens had refused their concession not just because it didn’t want to undermine the Greek military’s defensive capabilities, but also due to practical matters such as the need for licensing in the case of Tor-M1 – from Russia itself.
Meanwhile, the Greek government is focusing its attention on energy issues, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reportedly expected to make an announcement about the plan and timetable for the exploitation of deposits in a sea area around the south of Crete, in Kyparissiakos Bay and in the Ionian Sea.
The endeavor will no doubt be a time-consuming process, taking at least two years to complete. Nonetheless, the message that the government reportedly wants to send is that it is taking advantage of the international momentum after the invasion of Ukraine and putting Greece at the center of new initiatives by international players in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, energy issues in the Eastern Mediterranean were also discussed on Tuesday by Mitsotakis and visiting Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid.
The main topics discussed were the developments in Ukraine, as Israel has taken on a mediating role between Moscow and Kyiv.
The meeting took place amid scenarios of a game of energy poker being played in the Mediterranean triggered by the recent meeting between Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Energy and the day after were also on table at Mitsotakis’ informal meeting with Nuland at a time when it appears that the US is revisiting the EastMed pipeline plans.