ΑΤΗΕΝS – At the same time that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered “full solidarity” with Ukraine over Russia’s invasion, Greek ships are still going to Russia to transport goods and do business, and Russian ships still docking in Greek ports.
Ukrainian Ambassador Ukraine Sergii Shutenko told reporters that should stop and that Greece shouldn’t continue doing business as usual with Russia while also going along with European Union sanctions, which bar Russian airlines from the bloc.
He said Russia’s lifeline of money has 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 business with all sides to make money.
That came amid muted hope a compromise could be reached between Russia and Ukraine while thousands of civilians were killed by Russian bombing and attacks and the city of Mariupol, home to some 150,000 ethnic Greeks was besieged.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that sanctions against Russia by European Union countries would be implemented but didn’t say whether he would go along with Shutekno’s request.
“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, no report what Mitsotakis would do about it.
With more than 4,500 vessels, Greece’s merchant fleet is one of the largest in the world. The EU has been considering a ban on Russian ships entering the bloc’s ports and while shutting off most Russian banks to the SWIFT system of international transfers, has exempted those doing business with oil and gas, the EU and Greece depending on Russian energy.
In 2019, Greece’s exports to Russia were worth $259 million, including furskins, refined petroleum, and copper pipes, while Russian imports to Greece were worth $4.17 billion, 81 percent for petroleum products, followed by aluminum and copper.