Moscow slams US attempt to deny Russian navy Cyprus access

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Moscow has criticised the US for trying to arm-twist Nicosia into denying Russian warships access to Cyprus ports.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said such a move “runs contrary to the inalienable right of states to an independent foreign policy”.

Nicosia has kept quiet since the request was repeated this week but in the past said it facilitated Russian navy ships for “humanitarian reasons”.

In a post Thursday, on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account, Zakharova referenced recent comments by Clarke Cooper, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.

Cooper said about his visit to Nicosia last month: “I did specifically note that Cyprus has not yet taken the steps necessary to deny port access to Russian naval vessels.”

Washington and Cyprus are enjoying closer political ties with the US partially lifting a 33-year arms embargo as part of its Eastern Mediterranean Act.

“For us to go further with the Republic of Cyprus, we do need to see further assurances on their ability to deny port access to Russian naval vessels.

“Those are very honest conversations. We certainly appreciate the legacy nature as to those port calls.

“We certainly appreciate where there may have been some historic economic interest,” said Cooper.

But Russia accused the US of using its influence for a transactional relationship with Cyprus at the expense of Russia.

“It is not the first time that Washington has conditioned better relations with countries on the curtailment of their cooperation with Russia.

“This approach runs contrary to the inalienable right of states to an independent foreign policy,” said Zakharova.