After weeks of rebuttals at the bargaining table with EU superpower Germany, the new hard-left government of Greece is turning to a more willing partner in Russia.
Much to the horror of the European governments controlling the financial destiny of Greece, Russia is now negotiating a deal to sell cut-price gas to the Aegean nation, much as it did to Ukraine before a change of government led it to side more closely with the European Union. Greece, which is struggling to meet the terms of the enormous loans made to it by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, may loan as yet unspecified ‘assets’ in return for cheap Russian energy and loosening economic sanctions.
As Greek leader Tspiras left for the Kremlin this morning, Greek officials commented that the visit was expected to be “politically friendly and economically promising”. Greece already imports over half of its gas from Russia, and a preferential rate could help it balance its books, as well as increasing economic dependence on Russia, reports the Independent.
The reaction from the EU that Greece might be in talks with Russia has led the Russian foreign minister to remark that the European Union isn’t working in Greece’s best interests and was even trying to stop Greece from pursuing its own best interests. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the EU was creating an “anti-Russian front”, and that “more and more countries are becoming aware how counter-productive sanctions against Russia are.”
While Russia and Greece have deployed calming language, figures in the EU have reacted with disapproval, remarking that Athens has a clear choice to make between the European Union and Russia. It cannot be a friend of both.