Putin Lurks on the Sidelines as Greek Economic Crisis Heads Down to the Wire
…in the background, hoping to exploit a geopolitical opening, waits Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian leader — who spoke with Tsipras by phone Monday — has hinted that he would welcome Athens into his warm embrace if it were to exit the eurozone and perhaps the EU itself. He has talked of building a new Russian natural gas pipeline through Greece that would help Athens service its debt by generating revenue for the Greek government and creating jobs. Moscow and Athens have also considered that Russian firms would participate in the privatization of some Greek industry.
Tsipras has at least tried to reciprocate Putin’s overtures…
European leaders are well-aware that Greece represents an attractive target for Putin because of its membership in both NATO and the EU. Influence within the military alliance and the sanctions decision-making bodies of the EU would be a great prize for the Russian leader...[as for Orthodoxy, scroll down here: “
Putin emphasises Russia’s thousand-year-old ties with the Greek Orthodox Church which brought Christianity first to Ukraine, then Russia itself. In 1947…]
2) The Dragon:
Could China Save Greece from Financial Ruin?
One nation that does have the capital to rescue Greece is China. With some $4 trillion in hard currency reserves, and $21 trillion in savings, China undoubtedly has the resources to bail out Greece. Moreover, the Chinese appear intent on expanding their financial role. China loaned some $22 billion to Latin America in 2014, more than the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank combined [see “China Buying Brazil, or, What Monroe Doctrine?“]…
…In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the creation of both an overland Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which will connect China by land and sea to Europe. This so-called “One Belt, One Road” initiative will be funded by a dedicated $40 billion Silk Road fund as well as potentially by the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which has been formally ratified by Asian and European members [see also: “The Bear, the Dragon and Eurasia“].
China has expressed some interest in having Greece serve as the western terminus of the “One Road, One Belt” effort of fostering trade among China, the Central Asian states, and Europe. Last year, Chinese and Greek leaders initialed contracts totaling some $5 billion, centered on the port of Piraeus. As with all reports of Chinese foreign investment, these figures represent more ideals and aspirations, rather than actual expenditures. However, they do reflect a longer-term Chinese interest in establishing a presence in the eastern Mediterranean...
…Whether the West, and especially the United States, likes it or not, China has the ability to financially influence and even determine developments globally…[But note recent economic woes: “China stocks fall again despite support measures”.]
Just a thought: might Russia and China collaborate to some extent to undermine Western predominance in Greece? Hmm.