US ‘wishes to damage’ Russia-Cyprus ties

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Russia is shocked by US claims about its destabilising role in the region, arguing Washington seeks to harm close relations between Moscow and Nicosia, said Russian ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy.

In a comment on social media, Osadchiy said: “We were quite surprised by the statement of the US Ambassador in Cyprus Judith G. Garber on September 2 about the destabilizing role that Russia allegedly plays in the region, particularly in Syria”.

“We would like to remind that Russia, unlike the USA, is legally present in Syria on the invitation of the official Damascus and it was due to her help, that the backbone of terrorism in that country was broken,” the Russian diplomat said.

Garber held a press conference on Wednesday to herald the partial lifting of a decades-long US arms embargo on Cyprus as a testimony to their burgeoning bilateral ties.

The United States said it would lift for one year its three-decade-old arms embargo on Cyprus to allow “non-lethal” military goods to be sold to the Mediterranean island.

“The security relationship continues to grow… Cyprus is an important partner, a key player in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” Garber said.

But she reminded the embargo lift was part of a wider East Med Act which encouraged Cyprus not to facilitate Russian naval ships.

“The legislation that enabled this policy decision calls on the Republic of Cyprus to…take the steps necessary to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refuelling and servicing.  The United States urges the Republic of Cyprus to take those steps,” said Garber.

She said that the waiver for the non-lethal military equipment is not aimed at Turkey but concerns the wider security and stability in the eastern Mediterranean, “to counter malign actors in the region”.

“Russia is playing a very destabilising role in the region, particularly in Syria.”

This has irked Moscow and Osadchiy retorted that US activities in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, brought “blood, chaos, unrest and an unprecedented migration crisis”.

“Those who say that strengthening of cooperation with the USA in the region is not directed against anyone underestimate the real aims of Washington,” Osadchiy said on the embassy’s Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, the United States who often apply the “divide and rule” policy, are friends only for the sake of their benefit…and not for the sake of friendship itself”.

He said Washington wants “to damage the relations between Moscow and Nicosia by imposing their demand to deny access to Russian military ships to the ports of Cyprus”.