The Kremlin will do its part in the Greek economic recovery by working to support the country’s energy sector, Russia’s energy minister said.
European finance ministers ended 17 hours of negotiations Monday that set the stage for a $39 billion support mechanism for Greece, nearly two weeks after it defaulted on its $1.73 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Hours before the deal was secured, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the Kremlin was ready to lend a hand in the Greek energy sector.
“In connection with this we study options for direct supplies of energy resources for the Greek government, and they may begin shortly,” he said.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met in April with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss potential Russian financial assistance. Reports circulated then that the Kremlin pledged $5.5 billion in advance of a new pipeline to help deliver gas to Europe.
Disputes between Moscow and Kiev placed European energy security at risk and prompted both Moscow and Brussels to search for other options as the bulk of Russian gas for Europe runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine.
British energy company BP has awarded more than $1 billion in development contracts since selecting the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline as its option to carry gas to Europe from the Shah Deniz project off the coast of Azerbaijan in 2013. TAP would connect to the Trans-Anatolian natural gas project running through Turkey to the Greek border.
Russia’s role in the European energy sector is a contentious economic issue for both parties. Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the upper house of Russian parliament, told Russia’s Rossiya 24 news station last week Greece “has love and respect for Russia in their veins,” adding it was Russia that assured Greek independence in the early 1800s.
On Monday’s debt agreement, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was satisfied with the form and substance of the bailout deal.
“There will not be a ‘Grexit’,” he said in a statement.