ATHENS – Greece won’t go along with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s insistence that the European Union stop Russian oil and gas imports in its sanctions over its invasion, but will “fully support” other measures.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had authorized sending defense weapons to Ukraine and EU penalties that include barring Russian airlines, said he wouldn’t support a call to stop using Russian oil and gas.
The EU had removed most Russian banks from the SWIFT system allowing international transfers but exempted two banks who deal in the financing of the energy imports, 40 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP.)
That gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a key lifeline to keep financing the war against Ukraine which he called a “military operation” and has seen the bombing of civilian targets and children, and a maternity hospital.
Mitsotakis called Zelenskyy for a conversation, said Kathimerini, after the Ukranian leader had asked to talk to him but it wasn’t said if the topic of the Russian energy came up.
“The Prime Minister assured Mr. Zelenskyy of the full support of the Greek government in Ukraine and that Greece would send aid and receive Ukrainian refugees as well as from the Greek Diaspora,” a government statement said.
The Prime Minister’s Office also said the leaders discussed the plight of more than 100,000 ethnic Greeks in the port city of Mariupol which is besieged and where it was said children are dying of thirst.
Mitsotakis said he wanted to ensure that see the Greek Consul-General and others trapped in the OSCE building in Mariupol to get out and leave he country but Russia has attacked civilians trying to flee.
“The Prime Minister noted that the EU sent an important political message of support from France … for Ukraine’s European perspective. He also stressed that the full implementation of sanctions by all partners and allies will help put pressure on the Russian side to stop the attacks,” the statement concluded, allowing Russia to still export oil and gas.