Greek defense minister: ‘United States asked for our support on Russian sanctions’
U.S. military officials snub their Greek counterpart during his Washington visit
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said that the United States attempted to encourage Greece to support a new round of Russian sanctions but Athens still enjoys sharing religious and economic bonds with its “friend” and “ally,” Moscow.
After his meeting with US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USDP) Christine Wormuth on Wednesday, Kammenos told reporters: “I was asked to extend the sanctions, particularly in connection with Crimea. I explained [to Wormuth] that the Ukrainian issue was very sensitive for Greece as some 300,000 Greeks live in Mariupol and its neighborhood, and these people feel safe near the [Russian] Orthodox Church.” He, also, added that Greece has already lost more than €4 billion due to the Russian sanctions.
Greece’s Defense Minister has often stated in the near past that his country continues to preserve strong ties with Russia, mainly in the sector of defense contacts. In April, Kammenos revealed to Russian news agency Sputnik that Greece plans to continue military-technical collaboration with Russia while he shared Greece’s desire to settle new agreements, if the EU sanctions against Russia end soon.
U.S. Defense Secretary cancels meeting with Greek counterpart, Greek Reporter, May 20, 2015
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos was snubbed by his U.S. counterpart, Ashton Carter, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work on his visit to the United States. The U.S. Defense Secretary cancelled the meeting over the weekend, claiming he has a busy schedule.
Kammenos will go to the Pentagon to meet with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth. He will also meet with Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State. Reportedly, Greek diplomats made efforts to upgrade the Greek Defense Minister’s contacts without success.
Kammenos will also have lunch with members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and meet with the Chairman of the House’s Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry as well as Representative Frank Pallone and Senator Jack Reed.
Finally, the Greek Defense Minister will visit Lockheed Martin to discuss a 500 million dollar contract to upgrade five military aircraft.
According to analysts, the U.S. government is displeased with Greece’s new law that theoretically releases convicted terrorist Savvas Xeros. The U.S. Ambassador to Greece, David Pearce, had stated that if Xeros — who is responsible for the assassination of U.S. diplomats — is released from prison, that would be an unfriendly act toward the U.S.
Furthermore, Greece’s flirt with Russia — initiated partly by Kammenos — and certain statements made by the Defense Minister regarding Greece joining the BRICS bank have irked U.S. officials.
Analysts say that Greek-U.S. relations are at the worst point in recent years. Especially at a time when Greece is in the middle of harsh negotiations over its debt and needs all the support it can get. (End article)
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