Did Putin Sell Out Greece?


Did Putin Sell Out Greece?
Jul 22, 2015
By Leonid Bershidsky


There’s been a rash of conspiracy theories about secret concessions that Russian President Vladimir Putin is supposed to have made to Western leaders. The latest asserts that Putin could have helped Greece exit the euro but reversed course at the last moment, thus pushing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras into the cold embrace of European Union leaders.

The Greek newspaper To Vima reported earlier this week that Tsipras had asked Putin for a $10 billion loan so that Greece could transition back to the drachma. If it reintroduced the national currency, it would need foreign reserves to back it up, and Greece was out of euros. According to the report, Russia floated the idea of a $5 billion advance on the construction of a gas pipeline through Greece, a branch of the Turkish Stream project that Russia and Greece agreed to build in June.

To Vima is a reputable newspaper with good political sources, so 17 legislators from the opposition New Democracy party have officially asked Tsipras whether the report was true. The prime minister probably will deny it, as the Kremlin did Wednesday. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitri Peskov, told the news agency Interfax that “the Greek leadership never asked Russia for help.” Still, if the report were true, it would tie up a few loose ends.

In a recent interview, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said there was a “small group, a ‘war cabinet’ within the ministry, of about five people” that worked on a scenario for a Greek exit from the euro, but no decision was made to carry out the plan. On July 10, Varoufakis wrote in The Guardian that an exit from the euro would have required resources that Greece didn’t have:

To exit, we would have to create a new currency from scratch. In occupied Iraq, the introduction of new paper money took almost a year, 20 or so Boeing 747s, the mobilisation of the US military’s might, three printing firms and hundreds of trucks. In the absence of such support, Grexit would be the equivalent of announcing a large devaluation more than 18 months in advance: a recipe for liquidating all Greek capital stock and transferring it abroad by any means available.

The support only could have been obtained from a few countries, Russia and China in particular. China was reluctant to help Greece exit. When Premier Li Keqiang met with European politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels in June, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said China “hopes to see that Greece will stay in the euro zone” and that “members of the euro zone are able and wise enough to solve the debt problem appropriately.” Russia appeared more welcoming: In May, Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak suggested that Greece could join the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — and that the group’s new development bank could help with loans.

That may be why Tsipras called Putin on July 6, the day after Greeks voted overwhelmingly to reject the conditional bailout proposals of the country’s creditors. The readout of the call provided by Russia said only that the parties discussed the vote results “as well as certain matters to do with the further development of Russian-Greek cooperation.”

Perhaps Tsipras’s call was part of a bluff to strengthen his negotiating position with the creditors by making them think he had other options. If so, the bluff worked, but not quite as intended. On July 8, European Union President Donald Tusk told Tsipras: “Seek help among your friends and not among your enemies, especially when they are unable to help you.”

Tusk seemed to suggest that Tsipras had been asking Putin for help.

Tusk got at least one thing wrong, however: Russia easily could provide the $10 billion that To Vima said would be necessary for Greece to switch to the drachma. Even though Russia is smarting from low oil prices, it still has more than $360 billion in foreign reserves. Yet Putin didn’t offer the help.

Alexander Baunov of Moscow Carnegie Center, who once served as a Russian diplomat in Greece, suggested that Putin had little to gain: Support for Greece wouldn’t secure a Greek vote against economic sanctions, if only because the Tsipras government was not stable enough, and it wouldn’t ensure access to any lucrative assets. Conspiracy theorists from the Zero Hedge blog, however, figured Putin must have backed down as a concession to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany:

Merkel suddenly has a massive debt of gratitude to pay to Vladimir, whose betrayal of the Greek “Marxists” is what allowed the Eurozone to continue in its current form. The question then is what is Vlad’s pro quo in exchange for letting down the Greek government (and handing over its choicest assets to the (s)quid), whose fate was in the hands of the former KGB spy.

This collusion talk is reminiscent of fears among Ukrainians that the U.S. is selling them out to Putin in exchange for his help in achieving a deal with Iran. Along the same dubious logic, could it be that non-interference in Greece was the European part of the same deal that allows Putin to freeze the Ukrainian conflict with the tacit approval of his Western adversaries?

That theory is probably too convenient. Yet Putin’s behavior, both in the Iran talks and in the Greek crisis, clearly shows he is no mad dictator. He’s doing his best to signal to Western leaders that he’s a responsible player who is only aggressive when it comes to areas he considers his home territory. He’s not explicitly asking for anything in return, just a blind eye to his attempts to subvert Ukraine and a certain distance from the anti-Russian Ukrainian leaders. The West’s response to the Ukraine crisis will tell us whether the conspiracy theorists are on to something.


8 Responses to “Did Putin Sell Out Greece?”

  1. stedra rulz says:

    I’d say that Tsipras is an expert pro-European panhandler. If I were Putin; I wouldn’t trust Tsipras an inch.

    Anyway, Greece doesn’t really need any foreign currency reserves to bring back the Drachma. They need to get their economy moving again and selling goods abroad will bring in foreign currency.

  2. stedra rulz says:

    As for Tusk, with a friend like him; who needs enemies.

    • sovereigntea says:

      Probably all you need to know about Tusk

      Mr Tusk was Mr Cameron’s preferred candidate to succeed Herman van Rompuy as president of the European Council.

  3. sovereigntea says:

    The article assumes that Tsipras was not working all along with the banking / US/EU PTB .. Tsipras is most likely another parasitical fake “peoples advocate” socialist in a very long line. Kinnocks(s) Blair Marx Lenin Trotsky etc etc etc

    • To me…its feeling increasingly like the world is mad, going mad….though I knew this already
      Lies, lies, bluff, disinformation, couterdisinfo. Lies lies lies. Bastards have lied about everything, the 20th century is lies
      Look around even the aura Kirlian energy thing. Imagine the good that could do in hospitals.
      We have rotten liars all around us who don’t care, are happy to watch people get sick, take their toxic solutions – when in reality if these bastards relaxed their grip and channelled that energy into problem solving solutions and strategies…..But no, these are negative beings and all they know how to do is lies and lie and lie and obstruct and lie and cheat

      It becomes somewhat refreshing to consider……..there is a chance humanity might soon get to learn about Physics truths. Nikola Tesla physics truths. Physics cant be lied and disinfoed about. its reality and truth.

      Yes I know theres a big suppression cover up now and for the last 100 years. But this may end soon.

      It has the potential to be a Supremely powerful force blowing all these liars, their lies, and letting humanity see the Truths. Yes Tapblog readers, im saying the secret space programme being exposed has the power to do all this. Any possible destabilisation on society will be quickly remedied by the wonderful applications of Tesla technology the SSP uses, whether in health, or soil regeneration, free energy, and many other things

      Daily Express pushes this narrative for example

  4. Gordon says:

    Really! I don’t believe a word of this and is just as the article says. Rumor!

    My understanding is that Putin offered the Greek government financial assistance if they so wished, that former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was forced to resign in-part by European financial ministers, and that Varoufakis also disagreed with the path prime minister Alexis Tsipras and the government was taking. As a result Greece has accepted IMF loans and conditions which will inevitably strip the country dry of its assets and forever be beholding to the banksters whilst should have gone down the Iceland route.

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