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Ukraine crisis a balancing act for Athens

Ukraine crisis a balancing act for Athens

Athens is seeking to strike a delicate balance with regard to the Russo-Ukrainian crisis as the next few days may prove crucial.

On the one hand, Athens has made clear that it is on the same page with its western partners in the European Union and NATO on the need to maintain Ukraine’s territorial integrity and respect for international law. At the same time, however, it is also seeking not to jeopardize the painstaking process of restoring relations with Russia, which it considers an integral part of Europe’s security architecture.

At the moment, Greece is at the crossroads of the movement of important military forces from both Russia and NATO.

Two aircraft carriers will be located near Greece. The USS Harry S. Truman, which is currently in the Adriatic and the Ionian seas, and the French Charles de Gaulle, which is moving towards the Eastern Mediterranean. The Greek armed forces will contribute to both in various ways.

At the same time, US forces, mainly the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade in Stefanovikio, are preparing in the next few days to be transported through Alexandroupoli to Eastern Europe. What’s more, it remains to be seen in the coming days if the US, through NATO, will ask for other facilities or the contribution of Greek armed forces in the exercises already taking place in Eastern Europe.

Athens is also monitoring mobility in the seas around Greece of the Russian navy. Russian destroyers and other warships bound for the Black Sea are expected to cross Gibraltar this week, while the movement of ferries to the Black Sea is expected. There is further movement from Syria and the Russian bases there to the Black Sea, but also from the Red Sea, via the Suez. These movements are not unprecedented in recent years due to the increased Russian presence in Syria.