Russia says it will extend aid to Greece if asked

Anton Siluanov [R] and Vladimir Putin [The Kremlin]

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Thursday (29 January) that Russia would consider extending financial aid to debt-strapped Greece if Athens were to make a request.

“Well, we can imagine any situation, so if such petition is submitted to the Russian government, we will definitely consider it, but will take into account all the factors of our bilateral relationships between Russia and Greece,” he told CNBC.

Speculation has grown in recent days that new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government is at odds with the rest of Europe over sanctions on Russia, and may move closer to Moscow as it seeks to renegotiate its bailout programme with Europe.

>> Read: Tsipras had first clash with EU – over Russia

The impression was reinforced by comments from Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who said Athens was against sanctions and “had no differences with Russia”.

Tsipras met the Russian ambassador to Athens on Monday, the day he was sworn into office.

However, at the meeting of EU foreign ministers held on Thursday, colleagues said new foreign minister Nikos Kotzias had swiftly dispelled suggestions that Greece would automatically torpedo any sanctions effort.

>> Read: Greek foreign minister: I am not a Russian puppet

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia for its role in eastern Ukraine, where Western leaders accuse Moscow of supporting pro-Russian rebels with arms and soldiers. Moscow denies the allegations.