Russia’s military: Heading for Cyprus?


Russia and Cyprus have close ties both economically and politically. In a recent interview by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, Cypriot Parliament Speaker Yiannakis Omirou expressed his gratitude to the Russian government for its solidarity with Cyprus over the past five decades, particularly “the support that Russia has been giving within the framework of the UN Security Council in the light of threats on the part of Turkey.”

Meanwhile, Cyprus has stood by Russia even on sensitive issues — for example, during the recent annual vote on the UN Resolution regarding the status of refugees and internally displaced people from Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. The main elements of this resolution include: the recognition of the right of all refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homes, respect of the property rights of those persons, the prohibition of forced demographic changes, etc. These elements match Greek Cypriot demands vis-à-vis its own refugee/internally displaced persons (IDP) issue in the context of the decades-old Cyprus problem, yet Cyprus abstained — pure realpolitik!

Since returning to the presidency, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed the importance of a strong military, including Russia seeking a greater presence in the Mediterranean. Russia has been strengthening its presence, establishing a floating Mediterranean naval flotilla — consisting of some 16 warships — for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In June Putin stated, “This is a strategically important region, and we have tasks to carry out there to provide for the national security of the Russian Federation.” It is speculated this deployment is partially meant to deter any NATO move towards Syria.

With the future of Russia’s Tartus naval base on Syria’s Mediterranean coastline looking uncertain (Moscow recently evacuated all personnel), Russia is looking for other opportunities to maintain and strengthen its foothold in the Middle East. Therefore, increased speculation over a possible military presence on Cyprus is not surprising.

According Russia’s ambassador to Cyprus, Moscow has not raised the issue of a permanent base on Cyprus. This is just as well because even with the cozy ties it would be highly controversial and unlikely to happen. Not least, it would upset a number of parties including the EU, the US and Turkey, creating further waves in all these relationships. It could stop Cyprus from joining NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program. Cyprus is currently the only EU member not part of this program, although President Nikos Anastadiades had indicated an interest.

What is being discussed is an agreement that would allow Russia to use Limassol port for its navy (comparable to the agreement that Germany has that allows Berlin to dock warships and carry out land exercises) and Andreas Papandreou Air Base at Paphos for its military aircraft (presently only France has such permission). Foreign and defense ministers have met to discuss details.

Russia has been docking on and off at Limassol for a while and not only at Limassol. Russian warships have docked in Malta, Greece and for the first time ever (in May), in Israel. However, regarding Cyprus, the current system means that Russia has to ask permission in advance. With an official agreement this would no longer be necessary. Still, this deal would set a precedent as currently no EU member state allows Russia to use its military bases or ports for logistical or other reasons.

No doubt the fees Cyprus would receive would come in useful, and it may make the Greek Cypriots feel more secure, particularly related to Turkey in terms of its massive military presence in the north (around 40,000 soldiers) and Ankara’s negative rhetoric and naval maneuvers related to Greek Cypriot oil and gas exploration projects.

While a deal may still create some concern in the West, it seems set to go through; the precise details of the agreement will be crucial because as the saying goes the “devil is in the detail.” It will need to be extremely tight and clear concerning what Russia can or cannot do. Cyprus definitely will not want to find itself in a position where Russia has used it to launch any type of threatening military activity.

(This article first appeared in Today’s Zaman on 21 July)

  1. #1 by Babeouf on July 22, 2013 - 10:48 am

    It is clear that Germany and other EU states act as if they were still occupied by the USA. The Second World War has been over for almost 7 decades. The Cold War for about two. What do Europeans care if the entire Russian fleet moves to Cyprus? Are they going to re-invade Europe having withdrawn peacefully? Do they want European colonies so that they can let their new found wealth drain away into them. This and other publication identify the West with the USA. And then wax lyrical about the fears of the US regime. Time for Europe to declare the end of its status as a colony in the Spy and Lie empire.

    • #2 by KA on August 8, 2013 - 5:01 pm

      Taking Russia’s recent human rights violations (gay propaganda law) into consideration, any decent country would ask them to park their troops somewhere else.

    • #3 by John Graham on August 20, 2013 - 7:19 pm

      It is the Middle East and not Europe that is Russia’s motive for the Cyprus move. Look at the history of Cyprus (not only the recent history) and you will see that Cyprus is very strategically placed as a staging post and jumping off point for Middle East intervention-if and when required.

  2. #4 by Victor on July 22, 2013 - 9:57 pm

    Given that indeed the Cold War has ended, the presence of the Russian military in any European country should not be seen as a threat per se, just like the presence of American troops isn´t.

  3. #5 by jon livesey on July 22, 2013 - 10:20 pm

    One constant in Russian history is the naivete foreigners have about its intentions. Russia, and in particular Putin, never do anything without a purpose. Putin does not send a naval squadron to the Mediterranean so that Russian matelots can work on their tans.

    The Dardanelles and the Levant have been the focus of Russian interest since the middle of the C19th, when the decline of Turkey opened up the possibility of an expansion of Russian interests in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean generally.

    Russia views the EU as a component of the West, not really separable from the US. If the EU expands and consolidates to the border with Turkey, then it is as if the US had done so, and Turkey itself is a long-time US ally.

    So Russia uses the privilege it gained in the Treaty of Lausanne to transfer warships to the Mediterranean, and if it is taking the trouble to do so, it can only be to head off EU consolidation in the area. Within that strategy, I don’t think it is possible to predict exactly what Russian tactics will be, since they will be opportunistic, but it is certainly no accident, as the Bolsheviks used to say, that Russian interest in the area has revived as Cyprus and Greece are running into serious economic problems, Greece remains locked in an idiotic feud with Turkey, Russia’s client Syria is in turmoil, and unknown quantities of natural gas may be found in Eastern Mediterranean waters.

    These are exactly the kinds of troubled waters that Russian rulers like to fish.

  4. #6 by C. Antonov on July 23, 2013 - 4:42 pm

    may be there are banking groups that benefited from krude oil trade and slavery and much prefer Turks to occupy Cyprus as they did before liberation – and may be not only Cyprus – and to re-instate the vast Monster – Turkish Ottoman Empire on 3 continents. The very emergence of Turkish Empire was connected to Venecian Financial Olygarchy which later gave birth to East India Anglo Dutch Trading Company and its legal face – the British Empire> When national Government in Irak gave the boot to Int. Oil Companies Turkish army had an order to invade Irak and overthrow the national government – thus to help return neo-colonial system- and soon Russian replied through sending nuclear missiles to Cuba as JFK deployed US tactical nuclear weapons in Turkey to prevent Warsaw pact to block Turkish invasion in Irak – is was 5 minutes to global nuclear war

  5. #7 by Bastian on July 23, 2013 - 6:40 pm

    @Victor:
    “… Russian military in any European country should not be seen as a threat per se, just like the presence of American troops isn´t.”

    If American troops are not here to threaten us, why are they here then? Or are US troops here to protect us? In that case, why does the EU and members like Germany, France an UK which belong to the largest (EU) and richest economies of the world need US military protection, and what price do we pay for that.?
    Further, if, as you say, after the Cold War these are not relevant matters anymore, why then are no German or French military bases in Russia or the USA?

  6. #8 by cate on July 23, 2013 - 7:57 pm

    US troops are leaving Europe – the Brits also just withdrew their troops from Germany.

    • #9 by Robert Harneis on July 28, 2013 - 5:21 pm

      Hmmm. Be interesting to see when they leave their biggest base world wide – Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.

  7. #10 by jon livesey on July 23, 2013 - 10:25 pm

    “Or are US troops here to protect us? ”

    Victor, you know you could have cheated and looked this up. US troops are in Europe because we *asked* for them.

    In 1945, it was the intention of the US to gradually withdraw from Europe and leave the continent to defend itself, but it was clear that the devastation caused by the war – thanks very much, Germany, for the second time in a century would make it impossible for European countries to recover economically while simultaneously maintaining large militaries.

    So in 1948 the main European countries signed the NATO Treaty with the US that committed all of them collectively to consider an attack on any as an attack on all.

    And there are no German or french bases in the US because the US has never asked France or Germany to help defend the US.

    It’s a one-way street. The US helps to defend Europe, but when the US is involved in a war of its own, Europe is free to look the other way.

    I don’t mean to be personal, but I am slightly astonished that someone who has so much to say about both Europe and the US doesn’t understand the basic defence relationship between them.

    Asking so many vacuous rhetorical questions when you could just look NATO up, is a bit weird.

    • #11 by Victor on July 24, 2013 - 4:21 pm

      Being anti-American or anti-Nato and pro-EU is just as stupid as being anti-EU and pro-Nato and anti-American.

      But Russia and the “West” are no longer natural enemies for the only fact that the West won and Russia is much diminished.

      The West hasn´t been magnanimous nor consistent in its treatment of European separatist movements.

      • #12 by jon livesey on July 24, 2013 - 10:31 pm

        Organizations like NATO are created for one purpose and find other purposes as time passes.

        The aim of NATO is the defence of Europe. That used to mean defence from Russia. Today it means defence against anyone who threatens Europe. It does not have to be Russia, although the re-arming of Russia is going on in front of our faces, if we care to look.

      • #13 by Maggie G on July 25, 2013 - 3:24 pm

        NATO was created as answer on defeat of Club of the Isles military in WW2 by Stalin and Stalin’s refusal of Bretton-Woods as Stalin call it “dollar imperialism.” The fact that forces of evil have been defeated by Stalin is provable by Operation Unthinkable.
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1209041/Operation-unthinkable-How-Churchill-wanted-recruit-defeated-Nazi-troops-drive-Russia-Eastern-Europe.html

        Before war ended USA and Britain planned join forces with German military and reinvade Soviet Union. Simply. Western oligarchy were not satisfy with fact that Stalin got half of Europe and refused to enslave them for the west by Bretton-Woods.
        “Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.” Henry Kissinger
        http://www.hermes-press.com/dollar_imperialism.htm

        So they as mad dog dropped themselfs back into Asia to cover loses but more defeats were on the way: China was lost, Tibet was lost-see Circus army. They planned repeat story of Spanish-American war-apropo sparked by false flag event USS Maine exploded in Havana’s harbor- as they got Spanish colonies from Florida thru Cuba to Philipines, and as after WW1 Britain got German colonies, so USA planned to set itself in Korea as Japan was kicked of as colonial power. Brave koreans fought for their freedom and they won. Same was repeated in Vietnam, but in lot worse scenario- US military revolted, killed bunch of own commanders, see documentary Sir, No Sir.
        Cuba was lost.

        Then they attacked small countries like Panama, Grenada and sponsored robbery by dictators from School for the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia,USA in Latin America.

        It took decades from Vietnam defeat to go ahead into Iraq and Afghanistan where they were defeated to the bones.

        Basically, we are not far from times of Karl Marx and Adam Smith. First Constantine married church and state, and then by Medici Bank they married this hybrid state with business. It was crowned by East India Companies-both Marx and Smith wrote about it. Every politician in Britain was stock holder or got money from EIC. EIC has never had more than 300 employees and 1 building in Britain. All job for EIC was done by state employees on expenses of taxpayers.

        The system-it is called fascism- is still in the place: masquerading corporate interests as national interests and let stupids pay for that. We feed viper on our chests by our taxes.

    • #14 by passerby on August 15, 2013 - 8:12 am

      I’m slightly astonished that someone claims that the US defends us for free, out of the kindness of their hearts.

      And using pretty much the same arguments the Russians used to station troops in Eastern Europe. Russia had military bases in Eastern Europe. But East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and so on did not have any military bases in Russia. Same difference.

  8. #15 by Prof. Anthony Eaton. on July 24, 2013 - 10:37 am

    Perhaps my first scan of the original article was too cursory, but I failed to see mention of the British Sovereign Bases still extant upon the land of Cyprus. A permanent base for would rather put the cat among the pigeons with troops of both nations rubbing shoulders on a daily basis.

  9. #16 by Betterworld on July 24, 2013 - 12:33 pm

    Given the shredding of the European Human Rights architecture under the current EU leadership, if there was a Russian base on EU territory then we’d have the first safe haven for whistle blowers in the EU, particularly whistle blowers who reveal US war crimes. Being able to get here without flying would be particularly important given the US history of sending war planes to intercept civil airliners it thinks are transporting whistle blowers. Paul Craig Roberts is eloquent on the topic: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/07/23/role-reversal-how-the-us-became-the-ussr-paul-craig-roberts/#.Ue-Yt9Vm0sw.twitter
    The mere suggestion of a US intercept happening over their national territory looks like it was enough of a threat to their national pride for Spain, Portugal, France and Italy to all simultaneously close their airspace to the Bolivian president’s plane.

    • #17 by jon livesey on July 24, 2013 - 10:37 pm

      Oh, come on. Snowden is about as much a “whistle blower” as the Rosenbergs were. Snowden is a spy.

      The notion that Europe needs Russia to help preserve human rights is grotesque.

      • #18 by obamanation on July 25, 2013 - 12:19 am

        Spies share information about one government with another government. Whistleblowers share their information about governments or other entities with the public. Snowden is clearly a whistleblower.

      • #19 by Maggie G on July 25, 2013 - 2:55 pm

        U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay came out in support of Snowden on July 12. The UN high standing official openly condemns the USA. «Snowden’s case has shown the need to protect persons disclosing information on matters that have implications for human rights, as well as the importance of ensuring respect for the right to privacy», she said in a statement. «National legal systems must ensure that there are adequate avenues for individuals disclosing violations of human rights to express their concern without fear of reprisals», the UN official added. Pillay said undue surveillance could amount to infringement of human rights. As she put it, «While concerns about national security and criminal activity may justify the exceptional and narrowly-tailored use of surveillance programs, surveillance without adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy actually risks impacting negatively on the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms». She held an opinion that according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, no one may be subjected to arbitrary interference with their privacy, family, home or correspondence, and the law must protect everyone against such interference, she said.

        Actually the revelations related to government power abuse and human rights violations may come only from within, there is nowhere else such information may come from. It’s the government who is a wrongdoer and the whistleblowers in such cases should be protected from legal reprisals and disciplinary action the same way key witnesses for criminal prosecution are protected by special police programs.

        The NSA has violated international norms by snooping on allies, EU institutions and the UN’s offices. The right to privacy is recognized under Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

        From purely legal point of view Ed Snowden has not harmed anybody nor put anybody at risk. The only thing he had done is exposing acts, which are illegal under the US laws. The US government has already found Snowden guilty without a trial, labeling him a traitor. So his right for fair trial is impossible to materialize. It charges Snowden under the Espionage Act, but espionage presupposes spying for someone, which is not the case. The man did what he did as a conscientious objector to illegal government policy. The US government has revoked the fugitive’s passport interfering with his right to freedom of movement and seeking asylum where ever he wishes. So it’s not Snowden but the US government who should persecuted and tried.
        http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/07/19/snowden-evil-doer-raising-alarm-kind-paul-revere.html

      • #20 by Betterworld on July 25, 2013 - 4:13 pm

        Agreed: grotesque, but true, unfortunately.

        Certainty we cannot look to any of the nation states of the EU, or the EU parliament to uphold fundamental human rights like the right to due process. We, the citizens of the EU nations, now need to rely on the vested interests of competing states to correct the anti-democratic and illegal governing systems that have been imposed on us.

        The fact that the USA is not in the frame for consideration in that role is a measure of the descent of the USA in the field of human rights. How can a country that officially sanctions extrajudicial execution, illegal abduction, torture and indefinite detention lay claim to any human rights role?

        The landscape of human rights defenders has changed since the end of the cold war, changed utterly. Previous champions are now abusers, and visa versa.

        Snowden is a very useful litmus paper to judge the good from the bad. So far, there are only three, or possibly four, nations on the right side of this particular issue.

  10. #21 by Maggie G on July 25, 2013 - 2:48 pm

    Conspiracy theorists like myself believe modern history reflects a long-term conspiracy by an international financial elite to enslave humanity.

    Like blind men examining an elephant, we attribute this conspiracy to Jews, Illuminati, Vatican, Jesuits, Freemasons, Black Nobility, and Bildersbergs etc.

    The real villains are at the heart of our economic and cultural life. They are the dynastic families who own the Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and associated cartels.

    Clearly, it is within our reach to accomplish the Great Economic Development Projects that are the only thing that can save humanity from falling into a New Dark Age. There are no limits to the material, financial, or human resources that can be harnessed in the interest of mankind. There is no reason on earth for the majority of humanity to live at or below the poverty level, no reason for pestilence, war, and famine to stalk the planet. Why, then, are these Great Projects not already a reality?

    The answer is very straightforward. A financially and politically powerful apparatus, known among its own members as the Club of the Isles, is adamantly philosophically opposed to the spread of scientific and technological progress, particularly progress that accelerates the growth of the modern nation-state system that was founded over 500 years ago as the crowning accomplishment of the Golden Renaissance in Italy.

    You will not read about the Club of the Isles in any textbook or popular magazine. It is unincorporated and it has no membership lists. Yet, as an informal association of predominantly European-based royal households and princely families, the Club of the Isles commands an estimated $10 trillion in assets. It lords over such corporate giants as Royal Dutch Shell, Imperial Chemical Industries, Lloyds of London, Unilever, Lonrho, Rio Tinto Zinc, and Anglo American DeBeers. It dominates the world supply of petroleum, gold, diamonds, and many other vital raw materials; and deploys these assets not merely in the pursuit of wealth, but as resources at the disposal of its geopolitical agenda.

    Actually US military in Europe, and elsewhere, is protecting their interests. Realize that EU was born Operation Gladio run by NATO. 22 CIA operatives in Italy were found guilty of kidnapping German citizen for torture in Egypt. Thats what they do here on European soil.
    http://rense.com/general53/brith.htm
    I hope Greece and Serbia will also set Russian military bases. Just for balance

  11. #22 by Bob Beckman on August 1, 2013 - 11:00 am

    Excellent,analytical, observation by Jon Livesey(07/22/013). Russia, today, would it (with the “old guard” still on strategic positions) be any different compared to the pre-collapsed-Berlin wall-days? Remember those “old guard” words spoken decades ago ” A lie, spoken a thousand times, becomes the truth….” Someone who did his/her homework know what the true meaning of those words are.

  12. #23 by Lucia on August 6, 2013 - 5:34 pm

    At least the Russians will stimulate the local economy – gamble, alcohol and so on :)

  13. #24 by Efi Xanthou,Cyprus on August 7, 2013 - 5:56 pm

    For those that are not already aware of this, Cyprus only received its independance in 1960 from the British Empire after agreeing that 2 British military bases would be established on the island indefinetely. They are considered British sovereign soil and even the Turks did not dare invade British terittoryh when they invaded the rest of the island in 1974 (they stopeed parallel to the british bases of Dhekelia. These bases are at the disposal of the USA at any time and have been said to have been a stopover for the illegal transportation of prisoners from Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not sure what our government plans to offer Russia but you can bet that it will not be more than it has already given to the Brits and (indirectly) to the USA. Welcome to politics in the New World Order, were the EU has proven that it does not want to play the third, stabilising factor, but has let even its member states be pray to the highest bidder due to sheer indecisiveness. And we will not be the last…

  14. #25 by Journalist on August 14, 2013 - 3:01 pm

    This situation with Russia and Cyprus has no similarities with Spain and England over Spain’s Province of Gibraltar, where England is sending its Navy for Gunboat Diplomacy, which is the English way according to History.

    There are Many People Believe the English Empire stole Gibraltar from the Spanish People who are Gibraltar’s Rightful Owners, and this is because England has a Proven History of Stealing,

    The Powerful English Empire made the much weaker Spain sign the ‘Treaty’ of Utrecht under Duress, which makes it Illegal under International Law, because Spain would Never have signed over Gibraltar under Normal Circumstances.

    It is long overdue for the English Empire, which includes its Secret Unofficial Puppet Colony of America to give the Province of Gibraltar back to its Rightful Owners, who are the People of Spain.

    A Large Group of Countries need to join together to seek Justice for Spain in the International Legal Sphere, as they also need to do for Serbia if they and the Serbian Politicians have any respect for that which is respectable, in my humble opinion.

    Anglo-America has slandered the Innocent Serbian People and their Leaders, and Serbia needs to File a Genocide Case against England and its Secret Unofficial Puppet Colony of America, and the European Union, and share the Money with those Countriers that help Serbia gain Compensation.

    Set the Record Straight, and tell the Truth that Slobodan Milosevic and the were Serbian People were Innocent, and suggest that America and Nazi Europe Secretly place 30 Billion Bernanke Dollars in Serbia’s Bank Account as Compensation, and along with withdrawing support for Kosovo’s Independence,.

    There should be no English Colonial Masters disguised as Economic Advisers for Serbia, who cannot even help their own Country, but perhaps the Serbian Politicians want someone else to blame, and to help them line their Pockets with Privatizations in Serbia and Kosovo at http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2013&mm=08&dd=09&nav_id=87242 .

    I know that the English Empire and the European Union can get Certain Politicians and Western Media to Lie and Cover Up for them, but They Will Be what Many of us Know Them To Be, until they Confess and Pay Compensation to Serbia.

    The Video of the Journalist with a PhD that sets the Record Straight is Titled: Michael Savage exposes Bill Clinton’s lies against the Serbian people at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdCCBL4WcmE .