Wednesday, June 19 2024

Cyprus mulling US weapons proposal

Cyprus mulling US weapons proposal

Cyprus reportedly remains open to the possibility of reaching an agreement with the US to give up its Russian weapons.

The US inquired last week whether Nicosia would discuss giving up its armed forces’ Russian weapons so that they can be provided in the form of aid to Ukraine. The Cyprus Defense Ministry, which was the recipient of American interest, limited itself to saying that a possible agreement will not “reduce in any way the deterrent defense capabilities of an occupied country.”

The ruling Democratic Rally added what the ministry did not, with Deputy Chairman Harris Georgiades openly supporting the transfer of Russian armaments belonging to the National Guard, setting the self-evident conditions that it should not be done in a way that will undermine the deterrent potential of the armed forces, will not cause unbearable financial costs and will be in line with the political orientation of the country. Communist party AKEL called on the government to reject the US interest.

For his part, upon hearing the request, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades gave his approval for the issue to be examined. According to sources, the US is interested in the anti-aircraft umbrella of the Cypriot armed forces – Tor M1 and Buk-M1-2 arrays, and T-80U and BMP-3 tanks. The National Guard also has Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters, which are for sale in Serbia.

The necessary preconditions on the part of the Cypriot side is that its Russian weapons are not given to Ukraine directly from Cyprus, and the US Armed Forces will ensure they are replaced with available weapons. Moreover, the weapons will be given up only when the American weapons are received.

Military sources in Nicosia said that there is a unique opportunity to replace Russian weapons with high maintenance costs and for the complete lifting of the US military embargo.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland will arrive in Cyprus on Thursday as part of a wider tour of capitals in Europe as well as Ankara. She will attend the inauguration of the Cyprus Center for Land, Opens Seas, and Port Security (CyCLOPS) Training Center in Larnaca. The American proposal could be broached during her meeting with Anastasiades.