Russia and Cyprus have signed a military agreement that will allow Russian ships to call into ports in the EU member state, according to Tass news agency.
Independent Russian news service Interfax also confirmed the agreement, describing it as a “memorandum on cooperation in the naval area between the defence ministries of countries and an agreement between governments on military cooperation.”
The military deal is part of a broader range of agreements signed today by Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastesiades, who is on a visit to Moscow today.
Cyprus and Russia have close ties. The country frequently plays host to Russia’s jet-setting super-rich, earning the Cypriot town of Limassol the nickname LimassolGrad.
At the same time, Cyprus hosts two of the biggest British naval bases in the Mediterranean, Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The bases are often used by Nato forces en route to the Middle East.
Here is the Cypriot presidency announcing the deal:
The Cyprus Mail writes that, as part of the deal, the Russian parliament has agreed to postpone the payment of the €2.5 billion (£1.83 billion) that Cyprus owes for an additional five years. In 2011, Cyprus negotiated the bailout to expire in 2016, but after today it will have until 2021 to pay back the loan.
“Cyprus is Russia’s most credible ally in the EU,” Anastesiades has said, before he sharply criticised the economic sanctions the EU is levied against Moscow in response to the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. In particular, he said that sanctions are harming the EU as much as Russia and that Cyprus’s position “is that the crisis can only be solved through diplomatic means and not military ones.”
The energy ministers of the two countries also met on Wednesday to discuss cooperation in the sector:
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