While the news of Brexit has overwhelmed the headlines, Greece and Russia have taken bold steps to strengthen their relationship with little notice.
Historical ties between Russia and Greece date back a millennium. Unlike the Catholic church which held its liturgies in Latin, the Orthodox churches believed that the word of the Lord should be expressed in the vernacular of the people. To further the spread of Christianity, St Cyril created an alphabet based on the Greek alphabet which provides the medium of written expression in Russian to this day. Vladimir Putin issued a statement in advance of his visit to Greece where he referred to the historical bonds between these nations.
“The celebrations of the Millennium of Russian Monasticism on the Holy Mount Athos will be a landmark event this year. Throughout completely different periods of history, their moral courage, faith and patriotism helped our peoples to overcome severe ordeals and preserve their identity.”
During Putin’s visit to Greece the Greek and Russian government signed several Memoranda of Understanding to promote cooperation in the areas of cultural exchanges, academic and scientific cooperation, and to
So what does this all mean? Firstly, these agreements have solidified economic cooperation which will help Greece’s energy security, provide more markets for its agricultural products, which Russia sorely needs, and give Russia a means to continue to be a main supplier of oil and gas to Europe. A new pipeline deal is already underway, as reported by the Wall Street Journal .
Secondly, this could be considered a poke in the eye of NATO. Having expanded the number of member countries to encircle Russia since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, NATO has been working overtime to reignite old Cold War tensions by complaining of Russian aggression and demonizing Putin.
The wanton actions of NATO have created a refugee crisis causing millions to flee for their lives. The war on Libya has benefited the oil interests of powerful NATO countries, but left a disproportionate burden on the shoulders of Greece who is left to rescue thousands of desperate Libyans from the sea every week. By opening new relations with Russia, the Greek government sends a message to the other member states that she would prefer to de-escalate tensions.
Lastly, the economic cooperation between Greece and Russia could provide a future path for Greece to throw off the yoke of debt to the European Central Bank and the IMF. Conceivably, the recently formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could pay off Greece’s debt, or a substantial portion thereof, to the Troika, and offer terms that would actually enable the Greek economy to recover and prosper rather than condemning the nation to austerity and selling public assets at fire-sale prices.
Clearly, Russia providing a mechanism for Greece to extricate herself from the barbarous conditions of austerity imposed by ECB is purely speculative. Nonetheless, as pain of the new loan conditions continue to grow in Greece, and as NATO continues its policy of expansionist neo-colonial wars while continuing to encircle Russia and China, greater cooperation between Greece and Russia will look more alluring to both parties over time.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘Russia to the Grexit’.