By John Helmer, Moscow
A US Government effort to advance Turkish interests on Cyprus, and block Russia’s relationship with the government in Nicosia, has become the newest campaign of Victoria Nuland (lead image, left), the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Ukraine and the campaign for regime change in Moscow. The target of the fresh campaign, according to media reporting in Cyprus, is President Nicos Anastasiades. After warning Anastasiades to stay away from Moscow a year ago, Nuland has been back to Nicosia twice – in September, and then again in December – with a combination of threats and rewards to get Anastasiades to submit.
The rewards include new US arms and financing for the Cypriot security forces, ending the 24-year American military embargo on the island. The threats are aimed at terms which Anastasiades and his foreign minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, have been negotiating with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for an expansion of Russian military supplies, port and airforce facilities in Cyprus; and for increased trade and investment to overcome European Union (EU) sanctions.
According to the Cyprus Mail, a long-time promoter of Anglo-American interests on the island, Anastasiades is being pressured, not by the US, but by the Kremlin. Russia “does not want him to sign a settlement of the Cyprus problem,” the newspaper reported last week. The Cyprus Mail was reacting to growing concern among high-ranking Cyprus officials and members of parliament at evidence of Cyprus corruption spilling out of a New York court case.
This is the case pursued by Leonid Lebedev, a Russian politician and businessman on the run from Russian fraud charges. Lebedev, a Cyprus citizen since 2011, now lives in homes in Limassol and Los Angeles. According to the reported speculation in Cyprus, the evidence in the Lebedev case is “a warning to Nik[os Anastasiades] that more revelations would follow, if he did not hold back on the Cyprus talks.” Whether Lebedev’s “revelations” are a Russian threat, or one of Nuland’s, Cyprus sources say they aren’t sure.