Monday, February 09, 2015

Mediterranean Base?

Is Russia about to get naval and air bases on Cyprus?

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades announced that the country is ready to host Russian aviation and naval bases. The official agreement on military cooperation between the two nations is expected be signed on February 25, 2015, according to .

"There is an old [defense] agreement, which should be renewed as is. At the same time, some additional services will be provided in the same way as we do with other countries, such as, for example, with France and Germany," Nicos Anastasiades said. "Cyprus and Russia have traditionally had good relations, and this is not subject to change."

Recently, I noted that Greece might want to play the Russia card and offer Crete bases to Russia.

But earlier, I wrote of Russia getting bases on Cyprus for cash, too.

Given close ties between Greece and the Greek part of Cyprus, could Greece be involved in this, to get some cash for not standing in the way yet avoid a break with NATO and the EU?

Or has Russia played Cyprus against Greece in order to drive a harder bargain to get bases in Cyprus?

Cyprus would be less of a slap against NATO than a big Greece flip. And cheaper, I assume.

It would also tend to worry the Turks which Russia would like in order to mute Turkish complaints about Russia's conquest of Crimea and Russia's treatment of Tatars in Crimea (Moslem and ethnic Turks).

But it wouldn't alarm the Turks as much as a Greek flip, which might perhaps push Turkey to restore closer relations with America or even Israel.

And what does this say about Russia's view of Assad? Russia has a bare-bones facility in Syria that could be upgraded to base status if Assad can emerge from this war in a secure position.

Does Putin have a more pessimistic view of using that potential base at Tartus?

Is Russia's view that Assad cannot provide a secure environment or that it would be too provocative to Sunni Arab states after all the Russian-aided slaughter by non-Sunni Assad inside Syria for Russia to have a real base in Syria?

I don't know how credible the report is. But it certainly isn't something so outlandish that it couldn't possibly be true.

Not that a Russian squadron based in Cyprus would have anything other than a short but exciting life if it came to a war with NATO.

But Putin would surely love to stick it to NATO.

UPDATE: Perhaps the bidding war between Cyprus and Greece isn't over.

UPDATE: Greece speaks of a Plan B for financing:

Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said that if Greece failed to get a new debt agreement with the euro zone, it could always look elsewhere for help. ...

"Plan B is to get funding from another source," he told Greek television show that ran in to early Tuesday. "It could the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries," he said.

Greece's defense minister is speaking on this issue?

PLAN B? I hadn't considered that. Given the power imbalance, maybe Russia's gets Cyprus and China gets Crete from Greece.

China did evacuate citizens from Libya back in 2011.

And China is building a new "Silk Road" across Asia to Europe.

Might they want an outpost at the far end?

Mind you, if I was a betting man, I'd say that Greece is just using Plan B threats to get leverage for a better European Union deal (Plan A).

But once the notions are planted, you never can tell where reality leads you.

UPDATE: This would also fit in with Russian ambitions to restore their position in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.