Putin Says Cyprus Accord Gives Russian Navy Access to Ports

Russia’s navy will be able to use ports in Cyprus under a new military cooperation agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Russian ships will have access to ports on the Mediterranean island during operations to “fight international terrorism and piracy,” Putin said after talks with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades at his residence outside Moscow on Wednesday.

Anastasiades said Cyprus welcomed Putin’s role in negotiating the Feb. 12 agreement in Minsk, Belarus, to try to end the conflict in Ukraine. Russia and Brussels should renew military cooperation as soon as possible, he said.

The military accord, signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides, was concluded even as the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have accused Russia of sending weapons and troops to support separatists in the conflict with government troops in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies the allegation and accuses Ukraine of waging war on its own citizens.

Cyprus is an EU member and Anastasiades said after his election in 2013 that his country, which is not in the military alliance, will seek to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

Kasoulides said on Feb. 9 that there was “no question of Russian air or naval military bases on the soil of Cyprus,” and that Russia had never asked for them, according to the Cyprus News Agency. Russia’s only Mediterranean base is leased from war-torn Syria at the port of Tartus, though Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Al-Hayat newspaper in June 2013 that all personnel had been evacuated.

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