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EUROPE

CYPRUS:

  • The UN Secretary-General has said that rival Greek and Turkish Cypriots have not found enough common ground in order to restart peace negotiations on a formal level after a three-day summit. Three attempts to reunify the island have failed since 2004.

SOURCE: RT


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EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN:

  • Turkey and Greece will hold talks on Thursday on Mediterranean gas row, after coming to the precipice of an open military conflict last year. The two sides have also clashed over the island of Cyprus and the flow of refugees between the neighboring countries.

SOURCE: DW


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Geoeconomics

EUROPE:

EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN:

  • Turkey has told Israel, Greece and the European Union to seek its permission before assuming work on a projected undersea power cable in disputed eastern Mediterranean waters. Cyprus, Israel and Greece last week signed an initial agreement on laying the world’s longest undersea power cable linking their electricity grids. But the proposed link is set to run through contested waters at the centre of last year’s tensions between Turkey and Greece linked to Ankara’s search for natural gas.

SOURCE: THE ARAB WEEKLY


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EUROPE:

EAST MEDITERRANEAN:

  • France would take part in the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), and the United States will join as an observer. Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Jordan and the Palestinian Authority established the EMGF in September last year, as an intergovernmental organisation that seeks to promote natural gas exports from the eastern Mediterranean.

SOURCE: MIDDLE EAST MONITOR


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MEDITERRANEAN:

  • The European Union and Turkey emphasised the need for concrete steps to improve relations, after clashing over a number of regional issues in recent months. Turkey remains at loggerheads with EU members Greece and Cyprus over access to hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. In December, EU leaders agreed to extend sanctions against officials in charge of Turkey’s drilling operations in the disputed waters.

SOURCE: AHVAL NEWS


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Expert Analysis

Russian Influence In The Mediterranean Is Multipolar, Not Malign

Russian Influence In The Mediterranean Is Multipolar, Not Malign

17 DECEMBER 2020

Russian Influence In The Mediterranean Is Multipolar, Not Malign

US Secretary of State Pompeo’s misportrayal of Russian influence in the Mediterranean as malign is likely due to the fading unipolar hegemon’s fear of the growing multipolar impact that the Eurasian Great Power is having on regional affairs, and it also very conspicuously ignores the de-facto Russian-”Israeli” alliance which voices on both sides of the partisan aisle as well as the vast majority of the Alt-Media Community feel very uncomfortable discussing for vastly different reasons.

Malicious Accusations

America’s top diplomat claimed earlier this week that “Russia continues to threaten Mediterranean stability using a variety of techniques to spread disinformation, undermine national sovereignty, and sow chaos, conflict, and division within countries throughout the [Mediterranean].” Pompeo purported that the Eurasian Great Power’s enormous military support of the Syrian government in its anti-terrorist campaign was proof of this, as well as a diplomatic scandal in Greece a few years back, its diaspora’s financial connections with the region, and its reported mercenary-led intervention in Libya. In reality, however, Russia’s regional role is far from malign but actually represents the embodiment of irreversible multipolar trends, an observation which understandably upsets the fading unipolar hegemon. Moreover, Pompeo also conspicuously ignores the de-facto Russian-”Israeli” alliance which voices on both sides of the partisan aisle as well as the vast majority of the Alt-Media Community feel very uncomfortable discussing for vastly different reasons.

Setting The Record Straight

To briefly address each of his points, Russia’s anti-terrorist military intervention played a decisive role in defeating ISIS. In addition, the author earlier also drew attention two years ago to how “Russia’s Reshaping Syria’s ‘Deep State’ In Its Own Image”, specifically through one of its top think tank’s “recommendations” for security sector “reform” aimed at countering Iranian influence on that country’s armed forces, something which is being pursued independently of US interests but nevertheless dovetails with them. Secondly, the diplomatic scandal that Pompeo touched upon relates to Greece’s expulsion of Russian diplomats for supposedly trying to subvert the so-called “Prespes Agreement”that eventually made Macedonia the world’s first “politically correct” police state exactly as the author predicted, which they never attempted to do. Regarding its diaspora’s financial influence, there’s nothing wrong with this, and it in many ways compares to Western expats’ own. As for Libya, Russia is working closely with Turkey to stabilize the situation despite disagreements.

The Impact Of Multipolarity

The previously unforeseen and subsequently rapid expansion of Russian influence in the Mediterranean — greatly advanced by the newfound Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership that rose in the wake of their regrettable November 2015 plane incident in Syria — has had the effect of facilitating the spread of multipolarity throughout the region. What’s meant by this is that the US’ unipolar hegemonic designs are being threatened by Russia’s emergence as a credible alternative to it in many respects, thus finally giving regional players someone else to rely upon instead of having to retain their former dependence on America for whatever their needs may be or oppose its aggression almost entirely alone (with Iran’s support to the Resistance being the notable exception). Where Russia doesn’t differ from the US, however, is with its de-facto alliance with “Israel”, which the author elaborated upon at length in his extensively researched piece for Global Research in September 2019 titled “Russia’s Middle East Strategy: ‘Balance’ vs. ‘Betrayal’?”.

Pompeo’s “Politically Correct” Omission

Although some differences still remain between these two strategic partners, notably in terms of the limits to their cooperation in Syria, they’re still largely on the same page in many respects as the cited Global Research analysis explains. This, however, is conspicuously ignored by Pompeo, his partisan opponents, and most of the Alt-Media Community, albeit for their own reasons. Neither America’s top diplomat nor his domestic enemies dare to draw attention to this after spending the past four years defaming Russia since they’re afraid that it would thus make their “Israeli” ally look bad by association. They’re also probably a bit jealous of how close President Putin and Netanyahu have become over the years, the resultant relationship of which the author describes with the portmanteau of “Putinyahu’s Rusrael”. “Israel”, long thought by some to be under the US’ influence, is actually impressively independent as far as cultivating its own strategic relations with Russia goes. These observations make Americans uncomfortable, hence why they choose not to publicly discuss them.

The Alt-Media Community’s Self-Censorship

As for the Alt-Media Community, most are zealously opposed to Zionism, so much so that their beliefs are practically dogmatic at this point. Every member has the right to hold whichever sentiments they want, but they’re unable to reconcile their anti-Zionism and Russophilia like the author explained in his Global Research analysis. This leads to what he described as the “freakish fusion” between the two whereby those who espouse these views cannot accept that President Putin is a proud philo-Semite who’s overseen his country’s de-facto alliance with “Israel”, something that he passionately defended back in September 2019 while speaking before the self-described “preeminent worldwide fundraising organization for Israel” and “fundraising arm of the Jewish People and the Zionist Movement”, the Keren Heyesod Foundation. Instead of supporting Russia on some issues while disagreeing with it on others such as this one for instance, they feel that no such balanced approach is possible, so they simply ignore the Russian-”Israeli” alliance because it’s “politically inconvenient”.

The Jewel In Russia’s Geopolitical Crown

Truth be told, however, this game-changing strategic partnership is actually the jewel in Russia’s geopolitical crown, and no serious discussion of its Mediterranean strategy is possible without focusing the majority of one’s analytical attention on it. However one personally feels about Russia’s extremely close ties with “Israel”, the fact of the matter is Moscow seeks to replace Washington as Tel Aviv’s top regional security partner. There are of course practical limits to how far Russia is willing to go in this regard, but there’s no denying that it successfully pushed Iranian forces back from the occupied Golan Heights in 2018 as publicly acknowledged by Russia’s own Defense Ministry and even passively facilitated “Israel’s” hundreds of strikes against the IRGC and Hezbollah in the Arab Republic by never interfering with them despite receiving advanced notice. These developments — and especially Russia not allowing Syria to use the S-300s to shoot down “Israeli” jets as the author analyzed at length here — helped “Israel’s” security interests much more than the US has in recent years.

Concluding Thoughts

It’s not the author’s intent to argue in support of or against Russia’s de-facto alliance with “Israel” since he respects the reader’s right to arrive at their own conclusions about this sensitive issue, but simply to remind everyone that this strategic partnerships exists and thus raise the “uncomfortable question” of why Pompeo, his domestic opponents, and the Alt-Media Community all fail to mention it when discussing the Eurasian Great Power’s growing influence in the Mediterranean. As it was provocatively described in the article, this is actually the jewel in Russia’s geopolitical crown, and it can also be said that “Israel” regards its privileged relationship with Russia as being a jewel in its own such crown as well. After all, everything that Russia has done for “Israel’s” regional security interests in recent years (particularly with respect to Syria) can’t help but be immensely appreciated by Tel Aviv, especially since it’s much more than its traditional American ally has done for it during the same time. It’s therefore impossible to discuss Mediterranean geopolitics without acknowleding that the de-facto Russian-”Israeli” alliance is one of its most prominent features.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Mediterranean, Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Libya, Syria, Iran, Balancing, Putin, Netanyahu, Pompeo, US.


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Europe

EUROPE

  • EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN: MEPs have adopted an amendment calling on the European Council to impose sanctions on Turkey, after they unanimously voted to condemn its recent “unilateral and illegal” behavior in Cyprus and the surrounding territorial waters.

SOURCE: RT

 

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EUROPE

  • CYPRUS: Turkey provoked a new crisis with Cyprus with plans to extend its illegal occupation of part of the island to include an area called Varosha, a beach area that has been abandoned after Ankara expelled Greek Cypriots from the northern part of the island. The move has been condemned by Russia, the EU and UN. The provocation is of importance to the region, as Israel is becoming a key ally of Cyprus and Greece with a new gas deal (that collides with the interests of Turkey).

SOURCE: JERUSALEM POST

 

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Expert Analysis

Russia’s Cypriot-Turkish ‘Balancing’ Act Is Risky But Respectable

Russia’s Cypriot-Turkish ‘Balancing’ Act Is Risky But Respectable

 
9 SEPTEMBER 2020

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Russia’s attempt to “balance” between Cyprus and Turkey is a risky attempt to expand its influence in the Eastern Mediterranean since it could backfire if either of them begins to distrust its motives by suspecting Moscow of more closely siding with one over the other, but it’s also respectable in the sense that the Eurasian Great Power is objectively the best possible country to mediate between these two rival states since it enjoys strategic relations with both.

Russia’s “Balancing” Act

Russia’s 21st-century grand strategy envisions the country functioning as the supreme “balancing” force in Eurasia, and despite the author’s constructive criticisms about its execution, it remains among the most promising foreign policies in the world by virtue of Russia’s advantageous geography and historic diplomatic skills which uniquely enable it to potentially succeed with this ambitious goal. Moscow recently signaled interest in helping Cyprus and Turkey mediate their long-standing dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean provided that both sides request it, but this could backfire if either of them begins to distrust its motives by suspecting that Russia is more closely siding with one over the other. Nevertheless, it’s also respectable in the sense that the Eurasian Great Power is objectively the best possible country to mediate between these two rival states since it enjoys strategic relations with both.

Containing” Turkey

In recent years, however, Russia has visibly moved closer to Turkey while the latter’s historic American ally has shifted towards Greece and Cyprus. The reason for this is that some in Ankara suspected the US of being involved in the failed summer 2016 coup attempt against President Erdogan, after which Turkey actively engaged Russia exactly as the author predicted at the time while the US reacted by bolstering its ties with Turkey’s Hellenic rivals. The second-mentioned development recently took the form of Athens reinvigorating its military alliance with Washington last year and the US partially lifting its arms embargo on Nicosia earlier this month. In addition, tensions have spiked between those two and Turkey over their conflicting claims in the Eastern Mediterranean through which the Greece-”Israel”-Cyprus (GRISCY) pipeline is expected to pass. Cyprus and Greece also managed to successfully multilateralize their disputes with Turkey after jointly hosting maritime drills with France and Italy in the region. Evidently, a regional coalition is forming to “contain” Turkey.

Balancing” Basics

The essence of Russia’s “balancing” act is that it tends to side with what it perceives to be the “weaker” party in order to restore strategic parity so as to avoid a military conflict between the rival sides, but it only engages the aforementioned state if it believes that it has something of tangible significance to gain by doing so (e.g. promises of profitable economic deals, etc.). For instance, Russian military support to Syria wasn’t just to eliminate ISIS terrorists of Russian and Central Asian origin, but also to make itself the indispensable diplomatic force for resolving that country’s conflict which in turn will reshape Mideast geopolitics. It seemed for a few years to have been sympathetic to Iran and Hezbollah’s military roles there too since those two were considered to be weaker than “Israel”, but then started supporting “Israel” a lot more than those other two once it came to believe that they’d become stronger than the self-professed “Jewish State”. This isn’t to argue whether those assessments are all correct, but just to explain Russia’s Mideast “balancing” act.

The Strategic Basis Of Russian-Turkish Ties

The pertinence of this insight to the Cyprus-Turkish dimension of this grand strategy is that the island nation is obviously the weaker of the two if a back-to-back comparison is made but it’s been able to assemble a regional coalition in its support comprising Greece, France, Italy, and presumably also “Israel” and the US if the proverbial push came to shove. This means that Nicosia has more of an edge against Ankara than one might realize, thus leading to the conclusion that Turkey is being “contained” and thus is “comparatively weaker” when viewed from this perspective. This understanding explains why Russia tends to give off the perception of supporting Turkey so much (mostly in the passive sense of not getting in its way in Syria for example) since it believes that aiding Ankara can help restore strategic parity in the region between the Anatolian state and the coalition that’s forming to “contain” it. Nevertheless, some might argue that Russia’s “passive facilitation” of Turkey’s regional policy contributed to the “security dilemma” that sparked that aforesaid coalition’s formation.

Quid Pro Quo

In any case, the question to be asked is why Russia has decided to engage Cyprus at this moment in time and whether it truly believes that its efforts will be not only appreciated, but even rewarded if successful. What Moscow aims to do is expand its influence in the Eastern Mediterranean through diplomatic means via its “balancing” act, hoping that it can become a relevant player in this matrix of interests to the point where it’s able to shape the course of events. More specifically, it hopes to entice Cyprus into lessening its recent dependence on Western security guarantees in the event that it can somehow convince Turkey to support a political “compromise” on unifying the island and thus mitigating the tensions between those two. In exchange, Russia would probably like for its energy companies to play a role in GRISCY (agreed to both by Nicosia and Ankara’s surrogates in the self-described entity of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” following unification). A naval base somewhere on the island, or at least military-logistics rights, would be a plus too.

Success Is Far From Assured

For as ambitious as Russia’s aims are, it’s difficult to imagine Moscow implementing them. It hasn’t proposed any novel solution to Cypriot-Turkish tensions (at least not yet) so neither of them have much interest in requesting its support in any practical sense. Moreover, while mediation by a neutral third party such as Russia can be helpful, it proverbially takes two to tango, hence why both sides must request this and it’s unlikely that they’ll come to such an agreement. Even if they do, mediation might not be needed indefinitely if they come to realize that it’s more effective to simply discuss their issues bilaterally. Another issue is that the Kremlin masterfully practices realpolitik (“balancing”) nowadays to the extent that it doesn’t regard itself as having any historical-cultural commitments to anyone else (e.g. supporting Cyprus just because most of its people are fellow Orthodox Christians). As such, Cyprus might not trust Russia, and Moscow might not want to provoke Ankara’s ire by doing anything to earn Nicosia’s trust which could be perceived as being at Turkey’s expense.

Concluding Thoughts

Russia should be commended for its sincere desire to resolve the dangerous tensions between its Cypriot and Turkish strategic partners, but one shouldn’t get any false hopes about the likelihood of it succeeding. It’s enough to signal its positive intent for this gesture to have its intended soft power effect, but actually executing it in the unlikely event that both sides request its mediation might be more troublesome than many might think. Moscow would have to tread extremely carefully to avoid triggering a “security dilemma” with Ankara wherein its counterpart comes to regard Russia as contributing to its “containment” if Turkey begins to think that it’s taking Cyprus’ side. Unlike Cyprus which can’t really impose any meaningful costs upon Russia, Turkey could limit military coordination in Syria, create issues of a speculative nature with Turkish Stream, and potentially impose non-tariff barriers to commercial relations. With this in mind, some in Moscow might cynically hope that Cyprus and Turkey don’t take up Russia’s (mostly rhetorical?) mediation offer.

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American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Israel, GRISCY, Energy Geopolitics, Balancing, Eastern Mediterranean.

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Geopolitical conflicts

Europe (Mediterranean)

EUROPE:

  • Turkey has announced that Russia will hold live-fire naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, amid escalating tensions between Turkey and its coastal neighbors Greece and Cyprus over rights to search for energy resources in the region. The move could clearly be a message from Moscow that it remains a major regional player whose influence won’t be diminished by Washington.

SOURCE: THE WASHINGTON POST

 

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