ATHENS – The same day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an online appeal to Greece’s Parliament to help fight Russian invaders, the New Democracy government helped veto any European Union sanctions on Russian ships.
That was joined by Cyprus and Malta, said the site EURACTIV, blocking any ban on Russians ships coming into the bloc that would have also kept Greek ships from going to Russia on business.
Greece’s shipping industry is the world’s biggest and virtually untaxed and has considerable weight and influence politically but it wasn’t said if the government was bending to the oligarchs.
The European Commission had proposed banning all ships with a Russian flag or with a Flag of Convenience from another country – many Greek ships use the practice to avoid paying taxes.
The report said that the governments of the three countries prevented the penalties as Zelensky made a passionate speech to Greek lawmakers, citing the ancient Gree battle cry of Freedom or Death during the Ottoman Occupation.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was among the first to denounce the invasion and his government immediately sent military gear and weapons but has since pulled back, barring any more shipments.
He said there would be “full solidarity” with Ukraine but Zelensky said similar claims by EU and other country’s leaders should be followed up with sending more arms to help fight back Russian troops, not just their tweets of support.
The EU has also exempted two Russian banks dealing with oil and gas from sanctions against financial institutions and the bloc – depending on Russian energy for up to 40 percent of its needs – is still buying it, ignoring Zelensky’s pleas.