Rus­sia warns Cyprus against US mil­i­tary de­ploy­ment

The Jerusalem Post - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS - • By AN­DREW OS­BORN

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Rus­sia on Wed­nes­day warned author­i­ties in Cyprus not to al­low the US mil­i­tary to de­ploy on their ter­ri­tory, say­ing such a move would draw a Rus­sian re­ac­tion and re­sult in “dan­ger­ous and desta­bi­liz­ing con­se­quences” for the Mediter­ranean is­land.

Maria Zakharova, a spokesman for Rus­sia’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­istry, said Moscow had be­come aware of what she called “anti-Rus­sian plans” in­volv­ing Cyprus and the US mil­i­tary which she said was eye­ing set­ting up for­ward op­er­at­ing bases for its troops there.

“We’re get­ting in­for­ma­tion from var­i­ous sources that the United States is ac­tively study­ing op­tions to build up its mil­i­tary pres­ence on Cyprus,” Zakharova told a news brief­ing in Moscow.

“The aim is not be­ing hid­den – to counter grow­ing Rus­sian in­flu­ence in the re­gion in the light of the suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion by the Rus­sian mil­i­tary in Syria.”

There was no im­me­di­ate US re­sponse to her com­ments.

Pro­dro­mos Pro­dro­mou, a spokesman for the Cypriot gov­ern­ment, said the is­land had no de­sire to fur­ther mil­i­ta­rize.

“We want to clar­ify that it has never been our aim, nor do we seek the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of Cyprus,” he said, re­spond­ing to Zakharova’s re­marks.

“The Repub­lic of Cyprus, be­cause of its ad­van­ta­geous geo­graph­i­cal po­si­tion, of­fers fa­cil­i­ties for mis­sions of a hu­man­i­tar­ian na­ture, and then only in cases where coun­tries make a re­quest or have a rel­e­vant MOU (mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing) with the Repub­lic.”

Zakharova said a US del­e­ga­tion had in­spected po­ten­tial sites for the bases and that Wash­ing­ton was en­gaged in in­ten­sive talks with Ni­cosia on ex­pand­ing mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion.

Cyprus is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for Rus­sian tourists and cap­i­tal and many wealthy Rus­sian busi­ness peo­ple bank or own prop­erty there. The is­land, a for­mer Bri­tish colony, hosts two Bri­tish mil­i­tary bases. The United States has an em­bassy in Ni­cosia.

Cyprus was split by a Turk­ish in­va­sion in 1974 that fol­lowed a Greek-in­spired coup. North­ern Cyprus is now a Turk­ish Cypriot state of about 300,000 peo­ple that is rec­og­nized only by Turkey. Greek Cypri­ots run the is­land’s in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment which rep­re­sents the whole is­land in the Euro­pean Union.

Cypriot me­dia said the is­land had re­cently ap­pointed a mil­i­tary at­tache to Wash­ing­ton.

Zakharova said Rus­sia had re­peat­edly warned Cypriot author­i­ties against al­low­ing the is­land to be fur­ther mil­i­ta­rized.

“It be­ing drawn into US and NATO plans in the east­ern Mediter­ranean and the Mid­dle East will in­evitably lead to dan­ger­ous and desta­bi­liz­ing con­se­quences for Cyprus it­self,” she said.

“In Moscow we can’t ig­nore the anti-Rus­sian ele­ment in th­ese [US] plans and in the event that they are im­ple­mented we will be forced to take counter mea­sures.”

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