Cyprus has now agreed to allow the Russian Navy to use its ports and is in discussions with the Russian Federation to use Cypriot airports to provide a base for Russian aircraft that are involved in providing humanitarian relief.
Cyprus is a member of the European Union. Like many southern European states its economy is not in the best shape, but it is in better condition than Greece. It has an affinity with Europe, but is just on Europe’s edge. It also has an affinity with Russia. Historically both nations have share the same religion and historically Greeks are aware of the traditional enmity between Russia and Turkey (formerly the Ottoman Empire) and Greeks have had their own arguments with Turkey.
The increased co-operation between small Cyprus and large Russia has not attracted the same interest on the world stage that the close co-operation between Ukraine and the European Union.
Some eighty percent of foreign investment in Cyprus is from Russian sources and totals 33 billion Euros. Cypriots sources have invested nearly double that amount in Russia, but I expect that most of the Cypriot investment in Russia is in fact Russians using Cyprus companies and structures. Russia also provided soft loans to Cyprus to assist it in its economic crisis.
The relationship will assist Russia in avoiding European Union sanctions.
The Cyprus deal is significant to the European Union who will not welcome an expansion of Russian influence in the Union. However presumably Cyprus will look for assistance from Russia if it cannot get assistance from the European Union on similar terms. The greatest significance is that Greece under its new government may well see that it might get better relief from its economic plight by following the lead given by Cyprus.
Time will tell whether the arrangements will benefit the people of Cyprus in the long term.