Vladimir Putin continues to follow with interest the evolution of the Greek crisis, ready to launch the decisive jab to bring Athens to the Russian influenced area. A plan that the Kremlin leader has been cultivated since the treaties between the Government of Tsipras and the European Union reached the breaking point. In a Geo-politically complicated period like this, during which Russia has to deal with an economy in critical condition, and with the sanctions imposed by the EU for the war in Ukraine, the axis with Greece could be a real godsend. The Russian president, who never arrived at specific proposals – the state coffers do not allow him – does not intend to give up his role as tablemate in the crisis. Rather, he pushed up the bidding, now that the outcome of the Greek referendum puts Europe in even more trouble.
Yesterday the head of the Kremlin asked a telephone conversation with Tsipras: the two spoke during a break of the consultations by Eurogroup video-conference, to which the Greek prime minister wanted to attend. Putin expressed his “support for the Greek people and for the difficulties that the country must overcome” and discussed with the fellow “several issues related to the development of Russian-Greek cooperation”. That is: probably nothing new compared to the already agreed gas projects. Earlier, the Kremlin spokesman said he hoped that Greece would find “as soon as possible the necessary compromise with creditors and make the right decisions that will contribute to the economic and social stability of the country.” Dmitri Peskov then stated that Moscow “obviously respects the will expressed with the plebiscite”- the yesterday “no” vote – and confirmed the “very tight” relations between Moscow and Athens.
Between the two capitals, as well as important economic interests and common investments made by the Russians in recent years in Greece, there is the traditional harmony between “orthodox”, which allowed Putin and Tsipras in recent months to play on the possible route, but never realizing it. According to the head of the Greek government it is better not to cross the red line with the negotiations under way on the western side, and according to the Kremlin’s it is better not to make promises in times of crisis aggravated by Western sanctions. Moreover, Greece, after having dissociated measures against Russia, in the end voted for them and Putin did not bat an eyelid. Instead, he has promoted an agreement (preliminary) for the transit on Greek territory of the future South Stream pipeline, suggesting a loan for the construction of the Greek and the renunciation of Gazprom to the property, something that is indeed necessary if he does not want the project to be stopped in advance by the EU.
For the rest, from the deputy Arkady Dvorkovich, to the Ministry of Finance, the Russian refrain has been the same for weeks: they are ready to give aid if Athens needs it, but no specific numbers at the moment and Athens has not asked anything yet. President Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will surely talk about the Greek crisis during their next meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, from 8 to 10 July. And from this summit may come as a surprise: Russia has denied today that it has offered to Greece to join the New Development Bank that the group of five emerging countries is about to launch, with an initial capital of $ 50 billion, however, last week it had been hypothesized.
Meanwhile, Athens has officially announced the name of the new Minister of Finance after the surprising resignation of Yanis Varoufakis. It is Euclides Tsakalotos, which looks, and is described, as the anti Varoufakis, discreet, and characterized by a transgression in clothing that does not go beyond a yellow scarf and a black ordinary velvet, with his moderate tone with a slight British accent, even when he speaks Greek. Tsakalotos, who has a profile more authoritative than Varoufakis also from the exclusively academic point of view, is considered the author of the economic policies of the party in which has been militating for ten years. The ideas that defends however are not very different from those of his predecessor. Author or co-author of six different essays, including the last in which he defines the crisis of his country not really as an economic crisis, but as a “crisis of democracy” where the euro-zone wants Athens to remain. Born in Rotterdam, grew up in Britain, where he also attended the exclusive St. Paul school in London, he returned to Greece with his English wife only in the early nineties.
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo