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Politics

Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Sees Greece Taking Bigger NATO Role

ATHENS – While Turkey – a member of NATO – refuses to go along with European Union sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, the war has elevated Greece’s role in the defense alliance.

Having reupped a military cooperation deal with the United States, which will allow American forces to be positioned in Alexandroupoli near Turkey’s border, Greece also sent military gear and weapons to Ukraine, further gaining NATO’s favor after Turkey bought Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems undermining the alliance and could be used against Greece.

In a report, Kathimerini said the war in Ukraine made NATO rethink its strategy, with Greece gaining ground for unwavering support for backing the sanctions, which exempt the bloc still getting Russian oil and gas.

Greece took a risk in its relations with Russia which have taken a hit between the traditionally close Orthodox countries, but the paper noted that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ bold stance was appreciated.

Greece sent Ukraine military equipment compatible with that country’s systems, including 20,000 AK-47-type assault rifles, 815 Soviet-made RPG-18 anti-tank missile launchers and 122 missiles for Czech-made RM-70 multiple rocket launchers, aligning itself with NATO’s indirect assistance.

The New Democracy government is also preparing a further upgrade of Alexandroupoli which is in a key geopolitical position between Europe, Asia and into Ukraine for delivery of materials.

The newspaper earlier reported that the US will use Alexandroupoli as a staging point for some 3,000 personnel and equipment that will be deployed in Bulgaria and with Romania, which borders Ukraine and ships carrying personnel and equipment will dock at the Greek port.

While in Vilnius, the capital of the former Soviet state of Lithuania, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken went a step further from the activation of NATO’s Response Force and spoke of a permanent stationing of NATO forces on its eastern flank, the report noted.

The collective defense of Eastern Europe is being upgraded with more personnel as well as equipment as the EU doesn’t have a military and NATO, which won’t take military action against Russia, is nevertheless trying to further build a bulwark, Greece being a key player.

Besides Alexandroupoli and a US Navy base in Sounda Bay on the island of Crete, Greece has indirect access to the Black Sea, but only through the Dardanelles Strait and Bosporus Strait, both controlled by Turkey, which for now has barred access by warships.

Greece will be called upon to contribute ground forces to NATO’s reaction force and its Air Force is already patroling over the Bulgarian and Romanian coastlines, as well as over North Macedonia.

That has put the US in a spot as it wants more bases in Greece and a bigger military presence in the country but doesn’t want to alienate Turkey, where is also has forces at an air base and also wants Black Sea access.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg admitted he wants no part of troubles between Greece and Turkey and who has rights to the seas between them and refused to intervene over Turkish violations of Greek airspace and waters.

 

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