The information that the US is putting suffocating pressure on Cyprus to send its Russian weapons systems to Ukraine has been confirmed by Cyprus‘ Defence Minister, Haralambos Petridis.
The Americans are calling for the total disarmament of the National Guard, as they have reportedly asked for the immediate transfer of all (!) or part of the Russian weapons systems to Ukraine.
The big shock is that the Cypriot government is not negative to such a possibility, even though Turkey has been escalating tensions lately.
Nicosia sees practical difficulties, but says it is considering the proposal.
In a statement to Sigma, Cyprus‘ Defence Minister, Haralambos Petrides, said that the developments could be a catalyst for the complete lifting of the US arms embargo on the sale of arms to the Republic of Cyprus.
“There may be a problem in the maintenance of our existing military equipment.
In order to achieve our goal of operational capability, we are exploring all possible solutions and that is what we are doing at the moment,” the Defence Minister said.
The Americans‘ interest is focused on the two types of anti-aircraft systems that the National Guard has at its disposal, the TOR/M1, purchased from Greece and granted to Cyprus for the transfer and deployment of the S-300 system in Crete, and the BUK M1-2 anti-aircraft system.
There is also interest in the Russian T80-U tanks, the BMP-3 armoured fighting vehicle and the Mi-35 attack helicopters.
How will Russian weapons be replaced?
Cypriot sources note that Nicosia is facing serious difficulties in supplying spare parts for Russian weapons systems following the EU sanctions imposed on Russia.
Therefore, the issue of maintenance that arises because of the sanctions on Russia is part of the equation.
Initially, solutions for maintenance via third countries are also being considered.
“There may be a problem in the maintenance of existing equipment [. . . ]. In order to be able to maintain our goal, which is none other than operational capacity, we are exploring, and that is what we are doing at the moment, all possible solutions“, he added.
What remains unclear is whether and if the US request goes ahead, how the replacement of Russian weapon systems with systems of Western origin will be carried out.
As it is made clear, any agreement will involve the Republic of Cyprus and the US, while the gaps in the National Guard‘s armaments will have to be covered somehow, either by replacement or new purchases.
According to Defense Minister Charalambos Petridis, “it seems that perhaps the process that is taking place may be a catalyst, if you like, if we can, through some process, if it is feasible and it will be time-consuming, to lift the embargo from the US completely. ”
“It will trigger terribly unpleasant developments”
Analysts tell Cypriot Sigmalive that such a development would possibly trigger, on the part of Russia, terribly unpleasant developments that would also touch on the Cyprus problem.
At this stage, the Cypriot Defence Minister says that there are no plans to send weapons directly to Ukraine, while he sees existing issues, such as whether Russian suppliers allow the resale or concession of the systems.
He added that “most weapons systems have this clause depending on when they were purchased and on what terms“.
It also raises the issue of Congressional approval of such an agreement. The question that arises is whether or not the move will be successful, whether or not it will constitute Cyprus‘ involvement in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, or whether the US is attempting to tie the Republic of Cyprus to the chariot of the West and NATO, drastically limiting its room for manoeuvre – if not to a neutral, but at least a discreet stance in the face of the two poles.