Russia is willing to consider giving financial aid to Greece, a Russian government official said Friday ahead of talks between the leaders of the two countries.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras traveled to Russia as his country struggles to reach a deal with its creditors for new loans it needs to avoid defaulting on debt payments at the end of the month. Without the bailout, Greece could be headed for bankruptcy or an exit from the euro.
Tsipras’s visit has given rise to speculation that the Greeks may be seeking Russian loans. He meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin later Friday.
“We will support any decision (on the Greek debt crisis) that is proposed by Greece and our European partners,” Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said in an interview on RT television, the Tass news agency reported.
“The most important things for us are investment projects and trade with Greece. If financial support is needed, we will consider this question,” he said.
Dvorkovich spoke after Russia and Greece signed a deal Friday to build an extension of a prospective gas pipeline that would carry Russian gas to Europe through Turkey.
Russia promised Greece hundreds of millions of dollars in transit payments yearly if it agreed to build the pipeline. Construction of the pipeline is expected to start next year and be completed in 2019.
Putin’s spokesman said it was too early to comment on possible loans.
“To consider such a question, you first have to hear some kind of proposals or initiatives from our Greek partners,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “To discuss this abstractly, without having any appeals or proposals, would be shortsighted.