Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the Cypriot parliament on Thursday, during a busy week on the island with US diplomat visits and Nicosia grappling with a difficult dilemma.
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House Speaker Annita Demetriou of the Republic of Cyprus issued a statement on Monday saying Zelensky would join a special parliament session on Thursday afternoon at 6pm.
Zelensky has been on a virtual campaign to win hearts and minds in Europe and across the world after a powerful speech to EU lawmakers against Russian aggression, while trying to make the conflict relatable to legislative bodies of foreign nations.
'It seems that the development could be a catalyst if you will, if indeed we can manage this through some process that is doable and it could take time, to lift the US embargo completely'
The Ukrainian leader has been calling for broad support by way of no-fly zones over his country as well as sophisticated weapons to strike back at Russian armed forces.
Cyprus has been thrust into the spotlight recently including this week after local journalists suggested US officials had been sounding Nicosia out over possible shipments of Russian-made weaponry to Ukraine.
According to Cypriot defense minister Charalambos Petrides, the possibility would remain open if Washington was to move quickly to lift an American arms embargo that has only been partially lifted recently on conditions.
“It seems that the development could be a catalyst if you will, if indeed we can manage this through some process that is doable and it could take time, to lift the US embargo completely,” Petrides said.
In early March Russian ships had to turn elsewhere for replenishment after being denied entry into ports of the Republic of Cyprus.
But a few days later, according to political opposition, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides had ruled out sending any type of weaponry to Ukraine when he appeared before Cypriot lawmakers during a House foreign and European affairs session.
Zelensky's address will take place during the same week that US under-secretary Victoria Nuland is set to visit Nicosia. The American diplomat is also visiting France, Turkey, Greece, and Germany this week to garner further support for Ukraine and “coordinate our response to the Russian Federation’s unprovoked war.”
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.”