Only days after Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias concluded his visit to Moscow and meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Athens has blasted Russia’s “illegal” recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk independencee.
“Russia’s recognition of the illegal and unilateral declaration of ‘independence’ of the separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine is a clear violation of fundamental principles of international law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and the Minsk agreements,” a Greek foreign ministry statement said,
“We have repeatedly stressed that Greece is in favour of respect for territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of all states and condemns any decision that is contrary to these fundamental principles of international law,” the statement continued.
“As part of its commitments to the European Union and NATO, Greece will consult and coordinate with its European partners and allies regarding the response to this decision,” the statement concluded.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia recognised the independence of two separatist regions.
This move is fraught with meaning because the borders claimed by the Russia-backed leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk extend beyond territory they now control, and spill over into space controlled by the Ukrainian army.
The conflict in the separatist regions began in 2014, when Russian-speaking rebels seized government buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk after Kiev attempted to impose racist and discriminatory laws to Ukrainize ethnic minorities in the country.
More than 13,000 people have died in fighting in the region since, including several Greeks, the most recent last week in the village of Granitne.
Granitne had about 3,500 Greeks, but according to Crimean Greek historian Sergey Galanis, this number is much smaller as many moved from the village without finally returning because of the war.
In addition, according to the historian, the Greek community is resisting the nationalist Ukrainians, while in particular Granitne had voted in 2014 to secede from Kiev’s authority, something that was not achieved due to its recapture by the Ukrainian army.
The historian emphasised that “this is not the first time that Greeks in Donbass have fallen victim to Ukrainian nationalists.
“Other Greek villages were bombed and destroyed by the Ukrainians, while Greeks have been beaten and subjected to torture and humiliation in Ukrainian camps.”
Over 120,000 Greeks live in the wider Donetsk region.