In a sign that bilateral relations are taking a turn for the worse, Greece’s ambassador in Moscow was summoned on Friday by the Russian Foreign Ministry over the the expulsion of two Russian diplomats by Athens.
Furthermore, in what was seen as a response to the US State Department’s support for Greece’s action, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the US of being behind the move.
“Washington… is behind the anti-Russian decision of the government of Greece,” it said in a statement on Friday.
It also denied the Greek claim as baseless, saying that no evidence was presented to back up the accusations.
The expulsion of the diplomats, it said, went against the nature of bilateral ties and could cause serious damage.
However, Greek diplomatic sources were quick to dismiss the Russian accusations against the US as “unfounded.”
“Claims of alleged US pressure on Greece are entirely unfounded. The Russians seem to have difficulty understanding that a small state is able to defend its national interests,” the sources said.
“They are also having difficulty understanding our country’s right to defend its national interests in the region and keep seeing third countries behind [our actions].” they added, noting that Greece does not allow third parties to intervene in domestic affairs.
In a tweet on Thursday, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “We support Greece defending its sovereignty. Russia must end its destabilizing behavior.”
Greece said it expelled the diplomats and banned the entry of another two because they allegedly meddled in the country’s domestic affairs and tried to whip up opposition to the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) which paved the way for an invitation from NATO to the tiny Balkan nation to join the alliance.