Cyprus cozies up to Russia

Cypriot officials let a Russian ship loaded with ammunition sail on to Syria

Cozying up to the bear

Andreas Lazarou/AFP/Getty Images

A Russian ship’s clandestine cargo has made plain the country’s cosy relationship with Cyprus, says the U.K.’s Guardian. The MS Chariot was carrying 60 tonnes of ammunition bound for Syria when it made an unplanned stop at the Cypriot port of Limassol. Cyprus, a member of the European Union, should have held up the ship; the EU has banned arms sales to the Syrian regime, to hamstring its brutal backlash to its citizens’ calls for change (Russia is unwavering in its support of Syria, a key ally). Instead, Cypriot officials skipped inspections and allowed the Chariot to refuel and set sail, after its captain gave his word he would alter his course and head for Turkey. The ship then fell off radar screens. It docked in Syria on Jan. 12.

It’s all evidence of Cyprus’s “embarrassing subservience” to Russia, says an anonymous columnist in the Cyprus Mail. The Guardian points to the many Russians now living in Limassol, a resort town offering all the comforts of home. There’s also the siren call of Cyprus’s low corporate tax rate for Russian businesses. And, last but not least, there’s the 2.5-billion-euro loan Russia has promised to boost Cyprus’s flagging economy. The second instalment was delivered on Jan. 26.




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Cyprus cozies up to Russia

  1. Cyprus is not a major military power, and cannot compromise its vital interests at any cost. Yes, Cyprus has obligations as an EU member, and as recently as last summer paid a heavy price after previously seized munitions exploded near a key power station, leading to blackouts and the loss of 13 lives. That the munitions were inappropriately stored is not enough to absolve the EU from shouldering some of the responsibility for repairing the damage – something they now seem reluctant to do. Moreover, the EU has not been forceful enough with Turkey, a NATO member and EU applicant, that continues to illegally occupy northern Cyprus and has systematically altered the small island nation’s demographics by ethnically cleansing the area’s Greek speaking population over nearly four decades. Cyprus is wise to maintain a balance in its allegiances, and its relations with Russia, Israel (with whom it has partnered in oil and gas exploration), and the Arab world are just as important as its relations with the EU. As we have seen, the EU has shown little sympathy or solidarity for the economic collapse of Greece. Cyprus, a small nation, needs friends who will be more than self-serving.

  2. Too bad if the EU doesnt like it, Have they helped out Cyprus by telling the Turks to get their military out of Cyprus or forced them to cease their occupation of Northern Cyprus, the answer is a BIG FAT NO, so Cyprus doesnt owe the EU any loyalty since the EU doesnt show any to Cyprus

  3. The biggest overseas British Military Bases are in Cyprus. They are “sovereign” bases.There is strong naval and Royal Air Force presence, The UK is a member of the European Union. The Republic of Cyprus does not have an air force or significant naval forces. The UK did not offer or suggested any help to the Republic of Cyprus to handle the problem with the Russian boat which was carrying cargo which was going to a destination that the EU had an embargo. What is new with the British. They did the same in 1974 when they stood by and cheered the Turks when they invaded and destroyed Cyprus. Cyprus  is trying to survive as a nation,economically and in this geographically difficult area, and all we get from the second country that is occupying part of Cyprus, is critisism, instead of some constructive co- operation as both countries are members and partners in the EU .
    Kyriakosmm

  4. Speaking as a victim of the 1974 troubles it’s a shame this didn’t happen 38 years ago, there would now be no problem with the reunification of the island or presence of the british bases!!

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