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Thursday, January 29, 2015



Russia Links Loom Larger as Greece Seeks Debt Relief

Athens’s Resistance on New EU Sanctions Over Ukraine Could Be a Bargaining Chip

A new Greek government led by the left-wing Syriza party is creating an overlap between the two biggest crises Europe has faced in recent years: the deep economic malaise in the eurozone and the war in Ukraine.
Statements this week by members of the new government that distance Greece from European Union sanctions against Moscow have made officials in other European capitals wonder whether Greece might obstruct EU policy toward Russia over Moscow’s role in the war in Ukraine.

It isn’t clear yet how far the new government, ushered in by Sunday’s election, might go in resisting the EU’s strategy in the Ukraine conflict, which relies heavily on punishing Moscow’s support for separatist rebels by imposing sanctions on Russian officials, companies and industries.

But analysts said the early signs suggest new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras may be poised to revive two traditional Greek stances: flirting with Moscow, and playing the part of a prickly ally for Europe and the West.

Russia extends olive branch to Greeks

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Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told CNBC that Russia would consider giving financial help to debt-ridden Greece—just days after the new Greek government questioned further European Union sanctions against Russia.

Siluanov said Greece had not yet asked Russia for assistance, but he did not rule out an agreement between the two countries if Greece came asking.

Anton Siluanov, Russia's finance minister
Andrey Rudakov I Bloomberg via Getty Images
Anton Siluanov, Russia's finance minister
"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, so that is all I can say. If it is submitted we will consider it," Siluanov told CNBC in an exclusive interview in Moscow on Thursday.

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