Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What's the Greek word for vodka?

I ask because there might be a lot of it in Athens shortly.  Casey Research points out a very interesting sidelight of the Greek financial crisis.

Last week the world woke up to the fact that Greece’s new government holds a geopolitical trump card: it can hold the EU ransom by threatening to break the fragile consensus on Russia.

The renewal of sanctions against Russia requires the unanimous support of EU members… which means Obama’s alliance against Russia needs Greek cooperation. What’s more, Greece has veto power over whether NATO can retaliate for an attack on any of its members. Article V, which states, “[A]n armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all,” may only be invoked with unanimous agreement among NATO members.

Greece and Russia have close cultural and religious ties, and Russia is Greece’s largest trading partner. Russia’s ambassador to Athens didn’t waste any time congratulating Greece’s new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, on his victory.

So it’s no surprise that Putin is using Greece as leverage. Russia has hinted that it will open its market to Greek food exports if Greece leaves the eurozone, and also that it would consider giving Greece financial aid. One can imagine other carrots being dangled, like an offer to hook up Greece to the Turkish Stream pipeline.

. . .

Syriza, which has close connections with Russia, admires Putin’s defiance of Western institutions. The new Greek foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, has a relationship with Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian nationalist philosopher with close ties to Putin. As neo-eurasianists, they aim to pry a weak and divided Europe away from US influence. Syriza has openly campaigned for Greece to leave NATO, though they’ve toned down their hostility on that issue recently—presumbably to preserve it as a useful bargaining chip for the future.

Kotzias, who says he’ll work to prevent a rift between the EU and Russia, has already recognized the legitimacy of the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine and dismisses the Ukrainian government as a neo-Nazi junta.

. . .

The euro and the Ukraine crises are converging, and Putin is watching closely.

There's more at the link.  Intriguing!

This is going to put Germany and the more stable European Union states in a real pickle.  They're trying to get tough with Russia and support Ukraine;  but if they do that, Russia can offer Greece the economic incentives that the EU is denying it, and thereby undercut NATO and EU unanimity on how to deal with the Ukrainian separatist crisis.  Wheels within wheels . . .


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

EU and NATO throw Greece out of the club. Greece becomes the European version of Cuba.

Your move Putin.