Fruity Booty Trojan Horse

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin met today in Moscow. The EU feared a Trojan Horse deal in which Greece would gain economic aid from Russia in exchange for a Greek torpedo fired at sanctions.

I would favor such a deal actually, given that sanctions are seriously misplaced and harm both sides. The way to better relations is negotiation and free trade.

The result however, was as expected: lies and platitudes from both sides including a Pledge to ‘Restart and Revive’ Relations.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras have made a pledge to “restart and revive” bilateral relations in a meeting aimed at boosting each other’s political bargaining chips in their confrontations with the EU.

While Mr Tsipras trumpeted his country’s right to engage with Russia despite misgivings from other EU member countries while Moscow was locked in a stand-off with the west, Mr Putin dangled the prospect of Russian investment in cash-strapped Greece but said he had no intention of dividing the EU.

But while the Greek prime minister repeated his criticism of sanctions, he also appeared to reassure fellow EU members over fears that Greece could break ranks. He said that while Greece was seeking to build “relations of confidence and trust with the Russian Federation”, it remained an EU member and was “complying with all the commitments we have made to the EU”.

Mr Putin also dismissed the idea that Russia would prop up Athens with cash in its fight with EU creditors. “The Greek side did not ask us for help,” he said.

He also dismissed the notion, advanced by some European officials, of using Greece as a Trojan Horse in the EU. “We are not going to use anything within the EU in order to solve the problem of improving our relations with the EU as a whole,” Mr Putin said. “The best solution for all would be to stop the sanctions war.”

“In fact, it is by far not just Greece, Hungary and the Czech Republic that are opposed to sanctions,” said Alexei Martynov, a political scientist at the International Institute of the Newly Established States in Moscow. “A large number of politicians from other EU states think the same, but they only dare say that in the corridors and not publicly.”

Some Truth in Pack of Lies

How many lies can one count in the above paragraphs? Of course, Putin seeks to divide the EU. And of course Greece is engaged in gamesmanship in an attempt to gain leverage over the EU.

The one truth in all of this is Putin’s statement “The best solution for all would be to stop the sanctions war.

Solidarity with Stupidity

Notice the hypocrisy of Greece. It asserts its right to engage Russia. And it admits sanctions are stupid,  yet refuses to end them.

Sanction rules of the EU are such that every country must agree to them. To end the stupidity, all Greece has to do is say they will not vote to extend them. Poof. European sanctions would end. Obama would scream because he would then be the only fool with them.

Instead, Greece pledged solidarity with EU and US stupidity.

Russia Readies End to Greek Food Embargo

On the surface, all this meeting accomplished was an agreement to revive relations. I propose reviving them here and now.

Yet, one has to wonder what Tsipras is saying privately.

And in spite of what Putin said, Russia’s economy minister says Russia Readies End to Greek Food Embargo.

Russia has drafted a number of proposals that could end the embargo on food products from Greece, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Aleksey Ulyukayev said at a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday.

“We’ll be discussing in detail this issue during the meeting of the Russian Prime Minister and his Greek counterpart tomorrow,” Ulyukayev told reporters, as quoted by TASS.

“We’ve prepared a number of proposals regarding the embargo issue for discussion,” the Economy Minister said.

Russia is also considering rescinding food sanctions against Cyprus and Hungary, according to Aleksey Pushkov, head of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee.

Greece has been hit especially hard by the ban, as more than 40 percent of Greek exports are to Russia. In 2013, more than €178 million in fruits and conserves were exported to Russia, according to the Greek fruit export association, Incofruit-Hellas.

Up until the ban, Russia had been Greece’s biggest single trading partner worth $12.5 billion (€9.3 billion) by 2013, more than double the 2009 figure.

Russia’s agricultural food ban applies to EU countries and is not due to expire until August 2015, a year after the restrictions were imposed in response to Western sanctions. The ban also applies to the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, and Norway and includes meat, fish, chicken, cheese, milk, fruit, and vegetables.

What do Russia and Greece Want?

What Russia seeks is the end of sanctions. Greece would like that as well. But the current budget negotiations with the hated Troika are more important to Greece.

Since Germany is highly unlikely to give in to what it considers blackmail, Greece may as well have done the right thing by saying it will not vote to renew sanctions.

Of course, it’s very well possible that Tsipras is threatening just that in private.

If that’s the “real” agreement with Russia (we will find out by this summer),  perhaps the meeting did serve a purpose after all. And such an agreement would better explain statements made by Russia’s Economy Minister vs. the obvious lies of Putin.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock