'Grave' Repercussions If Greece Turns to Russia

Greek parliament employees raise a mast after they replaced torn-off Greek flag with a new one atop the parliament in Athens Syntagma (Constitution) squar Yannis Behrakis/REUTERS

There could be serious repercussions if Greece fails to reach an agreement on their debt with the eurozone, and turns to Russia instead, experts have warned.

The Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos today said his country may be forced to carry out a "plan B" if a new bailout deal can't be negotiated with the rest of the eurozone.

Kammenos, who is a member of the Independent Greeks, the right-wing party who formed a coalition with left-wing Syriza after they failed to secure a majority in January's elections, warned that: "Plan B is to get funding from another source. It could be the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries."

The newly formed Greek coalition government are attempting to negotiate a new deal with the eurozone on their debt obligations. However, while eurozone finance ministers meet in Brussels on Wednesday for another round of negotiations, the Greek foreign minister Nikolaos Kotzias will meet the Russian foreign minister in Moscow.

Dr Jonathan Eyal from defence and security think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) called Kammenos' statement an "unbecoming threat from a NATO member state."

He told Newsweek: "It's another reminder that the Greeks have never offered the kind of solidarity to Europe that Europe has shown to Greece."

"It's very obvious the Russians have an opportunity to subsidise a country that can stop a consensus that is required to keep up sanctions on Russia. It's very grave indeed. The repercussions of this could be quite serious depending on what Greece do in return."

These comments come just a day after reports of a proposed Russian base in Cyprus and Dr Eyal says today's developments "fall into a pattern of threats which coincide with what's been happening in Cyprus."

Members of the new Greek government have had developed good relations with Russia since coming to power. As well as objecting to calls for further sanctions against the country over the Ukraine conflict, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras reportedly accused Kiev of harbouring "neo-Nazi" elements while on a trip to Moscow before he was elected.

However, Dr Eyal says the prospect of Russia establishing a military presence in Greece is unlikely. "It's possible although it's a farfetched. If you were to see Russian bases in NATO territory it would obviously raise serious concerns."

"The Russians are not exactly flushed with cash. If the Russians were to be there it would take some time before they are in a position to something."

Greece's current programme of loans ends on the 28th February.