It emerged on Sunday that Cyprus is considering the transfer of its Russian-made weapons to Ukraine after a US request.
US representatives in Cyprus have asked the government whether they would be willing to transfer the country’s Russian-made weapons to Ukraine, Kathinerini Cyprus reports.
The paper adds that the request was received positively by President Nicos Anastasiades, who gave the green light for further discussions to be carried out swiftly. This would mean that Cyprus would no longer remain neutral in the war, as is usually the case.
Kathimerini’s sources stated that the Americans specifically asked for Cypriot anti-aircraft weapons, as well as attack helicopters. Of interest are particular types of anti-aircraft systems, the TOR/M1, (purchased from GR) which deploys the S-300 missile system, and BUK M-2, including T-80u, BMP3, and the MI-35 helicopter.
Consequently, if weapons from the Cypriot armed forces are to be deployed to Ukraine, they will be replaced with corresponding American weaponry.
However, according to a report in the Cyprus Mail, the Cypriot Defense Ministry said it will not make any moves that would reduce the defensive deterrence of a nation that is under occupation.
Cyprus says technical issues complicate the transfer of Russian arms to Ukraine
On Sunday, Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides confirmed the US request had been received but emphasized that practical issues, such as how the systems would be replaced in light of the ongoing US arms embargo against the Republic, complicate matters, reported Sigma.
The minister also said that the contracts which facilitated the procurement of the Russian-made weapons systems will also have to be studied to assess whether it is at all possible to proceed with handing them over to another country.
Analysts noted that the maintenance of the current Russian-made armaments may prove cumbersome for Cyprus considering the EU’s sanctions against Moscow, which Nicosia has complied with, Cyprus Mail says.
Later on, Monday, deputy chairman of ruling Disy Harris Georgiades offered his party’s support for the move, provided that the Republic is not unduly burdened by the transfer.
He said that Disy supports providing Ukraine with all the measures of assistance available, including equipment being sent by states which have the means to do so.
“It is clear that sending equipment on the part of Cyprus is not viable without it being replaced… but if there are options for replacing part of the National Guard’s armaments, in a way that would not reduce our defensive capabilities, would not incur steep financial costs and are in line with the policy of our nation, then these options should be studied,” Georgiades said.
Main opposition party Akel on Monday expressed direct opposition to compliance with the US request. “The involvement of Cyprus in the military confrontation in Ukraine neither contributes to peace or the end of bloodshed nor does it protect the interests of our country,” the party said.
US asked allies to contribute to the defense of Ukraine
According to a New York Times report from last Friday, the Biden administration asked its allies, countries that were former members of the USSR, to help transfer Soviet-made tanks from its own arsenals, which Ukrainian troops know how to use.
In March, a US retired general advised Ukraine to ask Greece, Bulgaria, and Slovakia to offer their Russian S300 surface-to-air-missile systems to help defend the country against the Russian invasion.
Speaking on Fox News, Keith Kellogg, formerly the national security advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, remarked that if the West won’t let Ukraine have additional MiG fighter jets to fend off Russian attackers, they should seek projectile-based help from certain NATO-member countries.
The general said two Balkan countries, Greece and Bulgaria, along with fellow NATO member Slovakia, all have S300 missile technology that itself was originally designed by Moscow.
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