Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades’ dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin have upset critics who said he’s taking sides against the European Union.
Anastasiades signed a deal to let the Russian Navy dock in Cyprus and – with his country reliant on Russian trade and looking for more aid – blasted the EU for imposing sanctions on Russia for its support of separatists in Ukraine.
His stance to align himself more with Putin and comments were “surprising” and “made no sense,” analysts who weren’t identified told the Cyprus Mail. They said he’s also jeopardizing the country’s relations with the EU, of which it is a member.
Anastasiades was elected two years ago on a pro-West campaign pledge of joining NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and has cozied up to the US since then before turning toward Moscow.
He said that “neither military means, nor sanctions can provide the answer” to the Ukraine issue, showing support for Putin at the same time the US, UN and EU are hitting Russia with sanctions.
Anastasiades was reported as saying from Saint Petersburg that Cyprus will “cooperate [with Russia] without regard to who reacts or may have other concerns,” snubbing his nose at his allies.
On a four-day official visit to Russia, Anastasiades also signed a number of agreements with the Russian Federation, including letting the the Russian fleet access to Cypriot ports for humanitarian purposes, and “combating terrorism, drug-trafficking, and smuggling”.
The agreement was interpreted by some foreign media as creating a “Russian military foothold” and a “beachhead” in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The British press cited military and political sources who expressed fears that the agreement would allow Russian vessels to eavesdrop on electronic intelligence gathering from the British bases on the island.
“The agreement is fine, there is nothing there to cause friction,” a veteran politician who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Sunday Mail. “The main problem is that when [Anastasiades] gets angry, more often than not he can’t control his mouth.”