Russian ships are turning elsewhere for replenishment after being denied entry into ports of the Republic of Cyprus, with the island’s foreign ministry scrapping a previous agreement citing the ongoing war in Ukraine.
According to Philenews, at least five Russian ships including frigates and support vessels were recently denied access to Limassol port on the island's southern coast.
The newspaper said it had confirmed with sources that Nicosia denied access citing the ongoing war in Ukraine, with additional reports saying the French aircraft carrier had also been in waters off Cyprus until it departed on Thursday.
While Russian ships always had access to Cypriot ports, Moscow over the years sought stronger ties with some European countries including Cyprus.
An agreement signed in 2015 between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades made explicit that Russian military ships would have access to Cypriot ports.
In 2020 Moscow and Washington went head to head over Cyprus, with US officials calling on Nicosia to address the portage issue drawing a reaction from their Russian counterparts
The deal came a year after the crisis in Ukraine began, following tensions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, as ties between Russia and the West plummeted.
Cyprus signed the deal after Putin said the ships allowed to dock at Cypriot ports would mostly be used in international anti-terrorism and piracy efforts.
“We signed a number of documents regarding our military cooperation. For example regarding the entrance of our ships to Cypriot ports,” Putin told journalists in 2015 according to Reuters.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who was serving in his position at the time before being reappointed earlier this year, said the agreement had been “nothing new.”
Kasoulides had also rejected media reports at the time that said Russia was seeking bases in the Republic of Cyprus.
Anastasiades then made clear that Cypriot “airports and sea ports would be made available to airplanes and ships for emergencies and humanitarian operations.”
But the deal with Moscow was in sharp contrast with an agreement between Nicosia and Washington, after US legislation called for partial lift of embargo on arms to the Republic of Cyprus in exchange of assurances that denied access to Russian naval vessels could be put to use.
In 2020 Moscow and Washington went head to head over Cyprus, with US officials calling on Nicosia to address the portage issue more fully and their Russian counterparts accusing Americans of “conditioning better relations with countries on the curtailment of their cooperation with Russia.”