ATHENS – Frustrated by stalled talks with international lenders, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will seek help from Russian President Vladimir Putin in the form of a gas pipeline deal and join a new development bank.
Tsipras, whose ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party has deep Communist roots, is set to meet Putin in St. Petersburg on June 19 – a day after a critical Eurozone meeting that could decide Greece’s economic fate as lenders have held back a critical 7.2-billion euro ($8.1 billion) installment until he agrees to impose more austerity measures.
The two are expected to affirm plans to see the construction of “Greek Stream,” an extension to the Turkish stream pipeline that would supply natural gas to Europe.
Putin also is expected to invite Greece to participate in a new development bank for BRICS countries which also includes Brazil, India, China and South Africa although it wasn’t said if that could replace aid from the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank that has been propping up Greece since 2010.
Greece has backed the EU’s decision to extend sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis but it hasn’t kept Putin from working with Tsipras, who has spoken out against the conditions but went along with them.
Tsipras had gone to Moscow previously to meet with Putin but returned empty-handed. That was long before the troika talks stalled and as Greece is facing repaying the IMF 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in bundled options the end of June.
Kathimerini said that Greece is considering a plan to pay the BRICS bank a token amount to be eligible to receive financing for infrastructure projects. The BRICS countries see the bank as an alternative to the US-dominated World Bank and to the American-based IMF.
It is not clear what commitments Greece would have to make in order to borrow from the Shanghai-based bank as Putin moves to align Russia with the other BRICs countries and try to bring in Athens.
The TurkStream pipeline project is still uncertain, however. Turkey, Serbia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have not yet said whether they will take part.