NATO ‘concerns’ over Greek manufacturing deal with Russia

The Telegraph — Senior Nato officials have raised concerns that attempts by Greece to forge a defence pact with Moscow could seriously undermine efforts to present a united front “against further acts of Russian aggression”.

The summit is the first meeting of Western leaders since Britain’s Brexit vote in last month’s referendum, and Nato leaders are keen to demonstrate the vote does not signal divisions in Europe that could be exploited by the Kremlin.

But in what was US President Barack Obama’s last Nato summit before he leaves the White House, Nato officials have raised concerns about deepening defence ties between Greece and Moscow which they fear could undermine attempts by Nato to present a united front against Russia.

Nato’s concerns relate to last month’s announcement by Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, when he unveiled a new partnership with Russia to manufacture Kalashnikov rifles.

The Greek government says the deal is vital to prevent the collapse of the country’s defence industry. But in order for the deal to go ahead Moscow is insisting that Greece must first persuade its Nato partners in Europe to lift the economic sanctions imposed after Russia’s controversial annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Greece’s deepening defence ties with Moscow that are causing concern for Nato officials.

One said: “It is essential that Nato leaders present a united front against Russia at the Warsaw summit if we are to deter further acts of Russian aggression in Europe. 

“But the fact that a strategically important Nato country like Greece is trying to build its own relationship with Moscow could seriously undermine the alliance’s ability to present a united front to deter further acts of Russian aggression.” 

Mr Kammenos, whose party joined forces with the Left-wing Syriza party of prime minister Alexis Tsipras to form a coalition government, was the only Western politician to attend the 4th Moscow International Security Conference held in April, when he claimed the EU’s sanctions had “been a disaster both for Russia and the EU”.