Greeks Refuse EU Demand to Stop Russian Fuel Tankers

Tue, Nov 29, 2016 | 5964 Comments
Russian naval destroyer Smetlivy is docked at the port of Piraeus where it will take part in an event connected with the Russian-Greek year of culture near Athens, Greece, Oct. 30, 2016. Source: Reuters

Dimitrios Velanis, the special advisor on Russian relations to the Greek prime minister, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that Greece will not take any action against Russia should Russian tankers carrying fuel for the country’s air forces in Syria travel through Greek territorial waters.

The EU currently bans the supply of jet fuel to Syria from EU countries under EU Council Regulation 1323/2014 ban. The embargo applies whether or not the fuel originated in the European Union.

“I would answer with the words used by the Russian Ministries of Defense and of Foreign Affairs, which were that the sanctions put in place by the EU and by NATO do not affect Russia, since it is not a member of these organizations,” Velanis said. “We understand that Russia‘s intervention in Syria, with its navy and air forces, needs of course to keep them going. Planes don’t fly without fuel.

“We know that Russian planes bomb terrorists, and not the Syrian people, unlike what is written in several Western news sources. To say that Russia is attacking peaceful ideals is 100 percent false. The Western media does not portray what is really happening, and similarly there is plenty of propaganda against Russia. But the Greek people understand this,” he said.

Velanis answered the question of whether the Russian Navy should expect any action by Greek forces by saying: “The relevant authorities in Greece have taken a particular position, and I think that the question of any restriction [on the Russian fleet] is not worth talking about.”

“This question isn’t to do with us; it is to do with Russia and Russian interests. But we shall not go against Russia’s interests because we have no foundation on which to do so. I believe that this is Greece’s position, and one which she will hold onto,” he said.

On Friday Nov. 25 a source in the Greek Ministry of Defense reported that Russian Navy ships may be able to refuel in Greek ports.

The day before, Mark Toner, a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said that Washington’s position was that European countries should not allow Russian tankers carrying fuel for Russian forces in Syria into their ports. 

The EU and NATO have banned Russian ships from entering their ports to refuel. So far, Spain and Malta have refused entry to Russian warships. Thus far, Russian ships have been able to refuel from tankers in the Black Sea.

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