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Columnists

Don’t Pay the Russian Ferryman, But Greece, Cyprus Did

March 27, 2022

Among the first to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – a one-man show giving orders as long as Putin wasn’t with his front-line soldiers facing Greek-like resistance – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that there was “full solidarity” with Ukraine.

Well, kind of.

Greece sent some ammunition and Kalashnikov-type assault rifles and missile launchers while officials in NATO – which tantalized Ukraine with the idea of joining the bloc, precipitating the invasion – tried to hide under their desks.

But despite the deaths of 10 ethnic Greeks in the city of Mariupol, home to some 150,000 of them and a home to those of Greek heritage for generations, Greece could do little but call the in the Russian Ambassador for a talking to.

And, still dependent on Russian oil and gas along with the rest of the European Union, which gets as much as 40 percent of its supplies from there, Greece could only go so far – while NATO went nowhere.

Mitsotakis and the EU wouldn’t go along with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plea to ban all Russian banks from the SWIFT international system of money transfers, exempting the two that deal with oil and gas.

That gave Putin the financial lifeline he needed – energy brings Russia some 40 percent of its Gross Domestic Product – and insured he would have enough money to choke Ukraine and bomb maternity hospitals, schools, and playgrounds.

Greece also wouldn’t bar Russian ships from its ports. It also let Greece’s shipping oligarchs keep sending vessels to Russia to make money because even in war – especially in war – there’s plenty of that to be made, and makes some very rich.

Mitsotakis also refused Zelenskyy’s request for TOR-M1 and OSA-AK short-range anti-aircraft systems – of Russian and East German origin – to strengthen the defense of Kyiv and other cities, said Kathimerini.

Even as Mariupol was besieged and hundreds upon hundreds of bodies lay in the street or were put in garbage bags and tossed in mass graves hastily dug trench-style, and children died from starvation or thirst, no more help was given.

You can’t count the tweets of denunciation unless you can eat them, and Ukraine was left essentially on its own as perhaps the biggest man-made humanitarian disaster since World War II played out on TV screens and live streaming.

The Useless Nations can do nothing because the invading country, Russia, is on the Security Council – further showing the UN exists only as a place for diplomats to shop and have lunch in New York.

NATO can do nothing because Ukraine wasn’t in NATO and the shameless gesture of the EU offering at some point to offer candidacy hopes was a charade. Putin correctly guessed the world would stand by even when it had a chance to make him give-in first if Russia lost its oil and gas revenue before western supplies gave out.

You can’t let a gator up when you have your foot on its neck, and when two men are choking each other it’s the one who doesn’t let up his grip first who makes the other turn blue and pass out, but all Putin had to do was hint at nuclear war to win.

So inured are we to these kinds of tragedies that the war in Ukraine, after the first few days, began slipping down in the headlines behind pop star feuds, Ye calling out Pete Davidson, and the latest sports scores.

Greece wasn’t moved to stop buying Russian oil and gas, bar its oil and gas banks from doing business, from sending ships to Russia, and letting Russian ships dock. Nor did Greece or Cyprus freeze the assets of rich Russians who bought Golden Visas, and to keep giving Putin the blood money he needed to keep killing Ukrainians.

Ukrainian Ambassador Ukraine Sergii Shutenko told reporters that Greece shouldn’t continue doing business with Russia while also going along with EU sanctions, which bar Russian airlines from the bloc.

He said Russia’s source of money had to be squeezed off although EU countries are reluctant to choke off the revenues, and even Cyprus said it might break the airline ban if too many tourists go to Turkey – which has rejected sanctions.

“We ask Greece in particular to close the ports to Russian vessels … stop doing business with them and stop sending your ships to Russia,” he said, Greece’s super-rich shipping oligarchs doing Yojimbo business with all sides for profit.

“Accepting Russian money, you should be aware, that the blood of Ukrainian children, of Ukrainians and Greek-Ukrainians in Mariupol is on these bank notes, on this money. Don’t accept bloody money from Russia,” Shutenko said.

He was ignored, because oil and gas and money and shipping are more important.

Putin AKA Charon, carried thousands of innocent souls to the other side with his war of politics, the ferryman who got the payment he wanted when the world let Russia go all Nazi on Ukrainians, Orthodox soldiers killing Orthodox people.

He didn’t demand an obolus – coin – to ferry the dead he killed across the River Styx – those who didn’t pay doomed to remain the restless dead according to ancient Greek mythology – but there was a way to make sure the war ended. Don’t give him the pennies to put on Ukrainian eyes.

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