The decision to lift the arms embargo from the Republic of Cyprus was made by the United States. Restrictive measures were introduced 33 years ago to promote a peaceful settlement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. However, against the backdrop of soured relations with Turkey and the intention to strengthen the us position in the Eastern Mediterranean, Washington decided to reconsider its previous course towards Nicosia. As reported by the Cyprus Mail newspaper, on Tuesday, US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo spoke by phone about the decision to lift the long-standing arms embargo to the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. As stated in Washington, the embargo is lifted for a year with the possibility of extending this period. It is emphasized that at the moment, the American side has allowed the delivery of only “non-lethal weapons systems”to the island state in the Mediterranean sea. In this category, the United States traditionally includes communications and intelligence equipment, personal protective equipment, automobiles, night vision devices and radars, and similar equipment.
Ankara harshly criticized the decision taken by the Americans and threatened retaliatory measures. “The us decision to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus is a signal for Turkey,” writes the Greek newspaper Kathimerini. It is easy to assume that Ankara will respond to such a “signal” – the Turks will certainly transfer additional forces to the Northern part of the island, controlled by the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). It cannot be ruled out that Turkey and the TRNC will implement their threats and open Varosha for business and tourists – a resort area of the Cypriot city of Famagusta, located de jure in the buffer zone of the divided island, but de facto occupied by Turkish troops. If such a scenario is realized, the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus settlement can be forgotten for a long time.
For Russia, no less important will be the question of what exactly the US will demand from Cyprus in exchange for the supply of “non-lethal” weapons. It is known that recently Washington has openly pressed Nicosia on a number of areas of cooperation with Moscow. The United States in an ultimatum form requires Cyprus to clear the financial sector of the country from the Russian presence and prohibit ships of the Russian Navy to use the port infrastructure in Cyprus.