Moscow and Nicosia signed an agreement in early 2015 allowing for Russian warships to access the Mediterranean island nation’s port facilities to help facilitate counterterrorism and anti-piracy efforts. The US announced a partial lifting of its decades-old arms embargo against Cyprus in September amid a spike in regional tensions.
The United States remains unsatisfied over the fact that Cyprus continues to allow Russian warships to use its ports, and will maintain pressure on the country to deny such port access, R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, has said.
“I did specifically note that Cyprus has not yet taken the steps necessary to deny port access to Russian naval vessels,” Cooper said, referring to his visit to Nicosia last month for talks with Cypriot officials. “We certainly want the Republic of Cyprus to pursue in this direction. This would also enable us to further continued access to [International Traffic in Arms Regulations]-controlled defence articles,” the diplomat added.
He added that moving forward, the US expects for Cyprus to take on a greater role in the Eastern Mediterranean and to “take on greater responsibilities that are supportive of the European Union as well as NATO requirements,” with the “portage issue” being one of assuring interoperability with the Western alliance.
Russia and Cyprus cemented a port access deal in February 2015, allowing Russian Navy…