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12° Nicosia,
15 June, 2024
 
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North unhappy after US sub anchors in Limassol

Turkish Cypriots on divided island angered as Greeks and Greek Cypriots step up support for Ukraine

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Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot leadership repeated warnings over the weekend about Washington “disrupting the balance” on the divided island, with their latest criticism targeting a deployed US attack submarine that anchored in Limassol.

Last Thursday President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Christodoulides, who is also the de facto Greek Cypriot leader in the south of the island, visited the nuclear-powered USS San Juan that had anchored one week ago at Limassol port.

A day later the American Embassy in Nicosia tweeted a photo showing Christodoulides walking onboard the US Navy Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine, saying this was “clear evidence of shared Cypriot-American commitment to promoting security and stability in the region.”

But Turkish Cypriots on Saturday cried foul over the visit, saying they “strongly condemn” the docking, along with references to Washington lifting an arms embargo on Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot National Guard recently teaming up with New Jersey in a State Partnership Program viewed by many as a potential precursor to NATO membership.

'The removal of the arms sales restrictions imposed by the US on the Greek Cypriot administration and subsequent steps... will encourage the Greek Cypriot administration to take up arms'

“We repeatedly state that the removal of the arms sales restrictions imposed by the US on the Greek Cypriot administration and subsequent steps that will endanger the security of the Turkish Cypriot people will encourage the Greek Cypriot administration to take up arms,” an official statement said.

The Turkish Cypriot comments came at a time when Athens and Ankara were not only toning down rhetoric but also taking reciprocal steps towards improving relations.

But Ankara issued a statement on Saturday siding with the northern part of the island, which is not recognized as a state by other counties except Turkey, and calling on Washington to “reconsider these policies.”

“We reiterate that Türkiye will continue to resolutely defend the rights and interests of the TRNC under all circumstances and conditions, within the framework of the responsibility stemming from our guarantor status,” Ankara said.

Support for Ukraine in the mix

The controversial docking came in the same week that Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov visited Cyprus amid reports that a recent EU plan to send ammunition to Kiev was being held up in some European capitals including Athens and Nicosia.

Cypriot Defense Minister Michalis Giorgallas said Nicosia would continue to support Ukraine in non-military, humanitarian ways but did not rule out cross-training on the island and elsewhere.

Rumors about Athens and Nicosia potentially arming Kiev with Soviet-made defense systems resurfaced amid Reznikov’s tour last week, with Greek Defense Minister declaring his country would “not provide any military assistance that could compromise” Greek defense.

Similar statements have been made repeatedly by Nicosia, when the previous government did not rule out indirect supply to Kiev through swap deals with third countries.

According to the Associated Press, during his Athens visit Reznikov was promised more artillery and small arms ammunition shipments, along with access to Greek hospitals for wounded servicemen as well as more Soviet-era BMP infantry fighting vehicles.

Cypriot Defense Minister Michalis Giorgallas said Nicosia would continue to support Ukraine in non-military, humanitarian ways but did not rule out cross-training on the island and elsewhere.

Greece has reportedly provided trainers for Ukraine’s special forces and tank operators, while Giorgallas said a Cypriot member of the National Guard had been deployed to Germany. It was not specified whether the Cypriot serviceman was receiving the training or providing it.

In a tweet last week, Reznikov said he gave Giorgallas an “update on the situation on the battlefield” and added he was grateful to Cyprus for its “strong support of our territorial integrity as well as assistance in defense such as trainings, including a course on de-mining and humanitarian spheres.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Greek  |  Turkish  |  Cypriot  |  Ukraine  |  United States  |  USS San Juan  |  arms  |  Athens  |  Kiev  |  Nicosia  |  NATO  |  Reznikov

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