Russia does not need bases on Cyprus - Military expert

Russia does not need military bases on Cyprus, especially considering the current economic climate, former chief of the international agreements division of the Russian Defense Ministry\'s main international cooperation department Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky said.

Russia does not need military bases on Cyprus, especially considering the current economic climate, former chief of the international agreements division of the Russian Defense Ministry\'s main international cooperation department Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky said.

"Sure, we do not need them [the bases], especially given the present-day economic conditions," Buzhinsky, PIR Center Board Chairman, told Interfax-AVN on Monday.

He was commenting on a statement by Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis who said Cyprus was prepared to consider the deployment of Russian air and naval bases on the island.

In the opinion of Buzhinsky, "Cyprus must need something, it wants money and is ready to do anything. It is especially amusing that they are offering [Russia] to open its base near Akrotiri, the location of a British military base."

Being a member of the European Union, Cyprus is part of the sphere of influence of the Europeans and the Americans, primarily, the Brits, he said.

"So, all this talk about Russian bases on Cyprus reminds me of Cyprus' "procurement" of S-300 missile systems. It even paid the bill, but the S-300 systems were finally deployed in Greece because no one would let Cyprus to deploy Russian-made air defense systems," Buzhinsky said.

Speaking of Greek media reports regarding the Russian government's request for leasing an air base on Cyprus, a military diplomat told Interfax-AVN in Moscow earlier that the Russian army did not have an operative need to deploy an airbase in the Mediterranean but it could temporarily use the Cypriot territory, for instance, for possible evacuation of Russian citizens from conflict-ridden Syria.

"The Russian army has no operative need to station an airbase on Cyprus, because the Russian Defense Ministry does not posses a regional group which will require support from such base," the source said.

"Most probably, it could be the question of temporary use, with the consent of the Cypriot side, of some airfield for possible evacuation of Russian citizens in the case of escalated tensions in Syria," he continued.

"The situation around that country [Syria] has changed, and Russia has contributed to that by its efforts," the source said.

At present, Russian airbases are deployed outside the national territory wherever Russia has army forces, i.e. in Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, he said.

Western media, which commented on the statement by Anastasiadis, said that a formal agreement on military cooperation between Russia and Cyprus might be signed on February 25, 2015.

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