Russian FM praises Greece’s stance on sanctions

MOSCOW – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised Greece’s stance on sanctions on Wednesday, saying the country understood how counter-productive their use was in dealing with Russia.

Greece’s new left-wing government ruffled feathers in the European Union by taking a softer stance towards Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, but fell into line when it agreed to extending existing sanctions against Russia last month.

At a joint news conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, Lavrov said: “We appreciate the stance of the Greek government, which understands the complete counter-productivity of attempts to speak this language with Russia.”

Lavrov added that Moscow would consider a request for financial aid if one came from Athens. A Greek official said earlier that Russia had offered support.

The 28-member EU put off the implementation of another round of sanctions against Russia to give diplomacy a chance as the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France are due to meet later on Wednesday to try broker a peace deal.

Kotzias said Athens had told other EU members that the bloc should not see its ties with Russia “through the prism of Ukraine” and should come out with a “positive agenda” instead.

Speaking via an official translator, Kotzias said Russia had a role to play in seeking a solution to the conflict in east Ukraine and expressed hope a significant deal would be reached at the summit in the Belarussian capital Minsk.