Greece received the first six German tanks over the weekend in what has been reported as a swap deal between the two countries to assist Ukraine, fueling further rumors that a similar arrangement was in the works in Nicosia.
According to Euractiv, Germany delivered 6 of 40 armored vehicles to Greece on Sunday as part of a swap for Ukraine where Athens will hand over 40 Soviet-designed BMP-1 amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicles.
The six Marder from the Rheinmetall company were handed over to Greece, Greek officials confirmed on Tuesday, following the article by Euractiv.
In a press release earlier, the Greek military said the delivery was part of an “upgrading of the army’s strength in battle and the strengthening of the army’s interoperability.”
Anastasiades reiterated last week that there would be no direct exchange but he did not rule out a swap for Ukraine through a third country willing to replace Nicosia's Russian-made systems
But according to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the arms deal swap was struck between Berlin and Athens at the end of May 2022, following talks with the Greek government.
Germany is sending Soviet weapons to Kiev through partners because the Ukrainian military is already familiar with the equipment.
A similar swap deal for Kiev is believed to be in the works in the Republic of Cyprus, where Nicosia said they were open the possibility but emphasized they would not be sending any weapons directly into Ukraine.
Last week Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades reiterated the position on no direct exchange but he did not rule out a swap through a third country that was willing to replace Russian-made systems with modern armaments.
The comments were made after a piece in The New York Times cited an anonymous source that suggested defense discussions in recent months between Cypriot and American officials had touched on Ukraine, which is desperately seeking Russian-made defense systems such as Cyprus’ Tor-M1 and Buk-M1 missile batteries.
Washington had been calling on countries to provide Ukraine with Russian-made weapons in order to make it easier for Ukrainian soldiers familiar with Soviet-era systems to hit the ground running as they fight the Russians.
Earlier this year Nicosia hinted at being open to the possibility but only after a complete lift of a US arms embargo on Cyprus.
Two weeks ago US President Joe Biden ordered the embargo to be fully removed, essentially allowing Cypriots to buy American lethal weapons, and remain lifted as long as certain conditions aimed at keeping Russian influence at bay were being met by Nicosia.