Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Russia, where he spent yesterday meeting with Vladimir Putin and today with Dmitri Medvedev. Though Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande pooh-poohed the significance of the meeting, and though initial reports indicated that it was little more than a photo-op, today’s statements from Tsipras raise the question of whether a more significant quid pro quo was agreed upon in secret.The Wall Street Journal:
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told senior Russian lawmakers here that Athens had played an active role in preventing an expansion of European Union sanctions against Russia earlier this year.The comments Thursday by Mr. Tsipras, who is in tough talks with European leaders about much-needed international funding, underscored the defiant tone of his two-day trip to Moscow, where he has criticized European sanctions and stressed Russia and Greece’s shared cultural and religious roots.“We used the small force we have to help avoid further sectoral sanctions,” said Mr. Tsipras, in comments carried by Russian state news agencies. “You probably know that the position of the new Greek government is that sanctions don’t lead anywhere, they’re a dead end.”
Is this Tsipras just mugging for the Russian media, or is the good Prime Minister acknowledging that he’s got Russia’s back when extending the sectoral sanction comes up on the EU agenda in June? As we noted the other day, Cyprus may already be on board with opposing Brussels, and one can never count out Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who might well stick up for his buddy Vladimir Vladimirovich. Only time will tell.