Relations between Russia and the new government in Greece continue to warm.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited the new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to visit Russia, reports Vedomosti.
"The president invited Tsipras to visit Russia at a convenient time. They discussed international issues, Ukraine and the situation with the South Stream," Putin's assistant Yuri Ushakov said.
Reportedly, Putin invited Tsipras on May 9 to "take part in an event marking the victory over Nazism," Bloomberg's Maria Petrakis tweeted.
Ushakov also added that Putin congratulated Tsipras on assuming office.
Analysts have had their eyes on Russia and Greece ever since Tsipras and his radical leftist party, Syriza, assumed office in January.
Syriza, the radical left-wing political party that won the Greek parliamentary elections over the weekend, surprised the EU by challenging economic reforms and the sanctions imposed on Russia — although they ultimately agreed to extending them.
Analysts believe that here Greece was trying to have bargaining chip against the EU in its quest for debt relief, but neverthless the move still raised some red flags.
Earlier this week, Greece's defense minister and outspoken "Eurosceptic" Panos Kammenos announced that he was invited to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoygu, in the near future.
Greece is one of the 28 members of NATO, while Russia perceives NATO as its biggest threat. So if Russia and Greece do form a military alliance, then Russia will have found an ally within its biggest perceived enemy.
"The new Greek government is cause for concern, especially because Tsipras has voiced his opposition to NATO membership in the past," geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer told BI. "And his early actions — these comments regarding sanctions, as well as his meeting with the Russian ambassador to Greece within hours of taking office — demonstrate that he is willing to engage differently with Moscow."
Additionally, the fact that Putin and Tsipras reportedly discussed a new pipeline — one that would go through Turkey and Greece — during their conversation is also notable. A new long-term gas deal to provide energy security for the fragile Greek economy could be a huge win for both Greece and the Syriza party.
"For its part, Russia would love to leverage Tsipras to sow European disunity on sanctions ... and that's just a starting point," Bremmer added. "Russia could use a warm water port in the Mediterranean. If things go badly for Greece, that's an interesting geopolitical option, and we could start to see it leveraging its relationship with Russia much more forcefully."
In any case, the signals from the Tsipras government have been decidedly pro-Russia.
And it looks like the two countries are looking to get closer over time.
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