Putin-Mitsotakis meeting: "Reset in Greek-Russian relations, Moscow balances power against Turkey"

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on December 8, 2021.

From 2018 with the deportation of Russian diplomats, the relationship between Moscow and Athens, as the geopolitical analyst George Filis said, was in fact very bad.

However, the Putin-Mitsotakis meeting was, as he assessed, a "damage control", but also a "reset" of the Greek-Russian relations.

"Initially we can say that it does not seem from the context that we have a big move or agreement between Greece and Russia. But what we also have to say is that I think we are doing "damage control" and a "reset" - if I can say so - of Greek-Russian relations after the essentially very bad relationship that had been established in previous years with the deportations of Russian diplomats in 2018," Filis stressed.

Both Russia and Greece, Filis continued, realise the fact that Greece is in NATO and the EU, and cannot be a brake on the development of their own relations.

"They understand that in this negative situation that has to do with the deterioration of Moscow's relations with NATO in particular, the EU in second, and the emerging or lurking or escalating - as one might call it - crisis in Ukraine," he said.

"It is characteristic that Mr. Putin, who is of the realist school, clarified that there is no question of making Greece hostile to Russia despite the fact that we are in NATO and this has to do with the logic that says that Russia does not trust the n Turkey," Filis added.

Filis considers that the relations between Russia and Turkey are tactical and not a strategic type of alliance and that in case of a conflict between Greece and Turkey, Russia realises that it should support Greece.

And this, as he pointed out, will happen because Russia does not want Turkey to control half of the Aegean.

"We have said in the past that Russian-Turkish relations are nothing more than a tactical alliance in the sense that Russia has agreed to ally with someone who is consciously waging war on it in Syria and beyond," the geopolitics expert said.

"This does not mean, however, that a tactical alliance between Russia and Turkey can become a truly strategic alliance because Moscow do not trust it and know that the Turks are potentially the real threat to the Russians.

"So Russia keeps the balance with Greece, realises that in fact in case of a Greek-Turkish conflict, it should support Greece.

"The reason is very simple. Russia would never want Turkey to control half of the Black Sea, the entire Strait and half of the Aegean.

"This will mean a huge geopolitical disaster for Russia."

He believes that Russia "follows a balanced strategy, something that Athens will try to do, something right now it is doing well. The previous period and the moves of rapprochement with Russia by [Foreign Minister Nikos] Dendias showed it".

But also Russia realises in a realistic context that it cannot have "all the eggs in the Turkish basket".

Turkey obviously plays an important role and for us Greeks, Russia is a balancing force against Turkey.

So we have to be very careful with the Russians, we have interests not to have rivalry with Russia and the Russians have every interest not to sever their relations with Greece and Cyprus which can and have helped it many times in the EU.

"[Moscow] would certainly not want to see anywhere a Turkey controlling the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean," Filis concluded.

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