The new Russian ambassador to Cyprus presented his credentials to the outgoing president on Thursday, with the two men highlighting friendship and cooperation amid strained relations between the two countries.
Russian Ambassador Murat Zyazikov presented his credentials to outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia on Thursday.
Zyazikov, a KGB-trained diplomat, reassured Anastasiades that Russia’s approach to the Cyprus issue would not change, referring to Moscow’s position to honor existing UN Security Council resolutions on the divided island.
According to a Russian Embassy online post, the two men expressed hope that friendly relations between the two countries would be maintained.
The ceremony comes at a time when relations between Nicosia and Moscow have been strained following a series of diplomatic challenges that culminated last year when Russia ordered troops into Ukraine
“They emphasized that Russia and Cyprus are united by decades of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation, the unity of spiritual and cultural values,” the embassy said.
The ceremony comes at a time when relations between Nicosia and Moscow have been strained following a series of diplomatic challenges that culminated last year when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine.
Nicosia responded by adopting European sanctions against Moscow, as well as heeding past calls from Washington to keep Russian navy ships at bay, as well as toughening air travel and entry guidelines for Russian travelers.
The Kremlin responded by putting Cyprus in a category of unfriendly countries and further accusing the United States of dictating a Russia approach to European capitals including Nicosia.
Last week Anastasiades had a brief chat with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels, where a special EUCO session touched on EU military and financial assistance to Ukraine.
A number of Soviet-made armaments currently in the Greek Cypriot National Guard have been on Ukraine’s wish list, with Nicosia angering Moscow over unclear messages on equipment transfers to Kiev through swap deals with third countries.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov also criticized a recent decision by European leaders to further supply arms to Kiev, saying it was “an absurd decision” according to TASS.
"Everything that is being put on board of another vessel now will be ground down. All those Leopard [tanks]… will be plunged by our fire in Ukraine," he added.