Simply put, the US is setting Greece up to become a long-term vassal, but its leaders either don’t realize it or don’t care.
Greek media reported that their country agreed to transfer outdated Russian air defense systems and ammo to Ukraine at the US’ behest in exchange for Washington greenlighting the sale of 40 F-35 fighter jets to Athens for $8.6 billion and throwing in $200 million of Foreign Military Financing aid. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov reacted to this report by reminding his country’s partners of their contractual obligations and implying that the transfer of such wares without authorization will ruin their ties.
For as close as these two’s people are, their governments have recently drifted apart due to Greece’s suspicion of Russia’s comprehensive expansion of relations with Turkiye, Athens’ compliance with the West’s sanctions regime, and the May 2022 mutual defense cooperation agreement with the US. “Turkiye Turned Out To Be A More Trustworthy Military Partner For Russia Than Greece” despite Ankara’s export of Bayraktar drones to Kiev and history of voting against Russia at the UNGA.
It’s kept the straits shut to non-regional NATO members’ navies per its international legal obligations, profited handsomely from defying the West’s sanctions regime, and never even considered sending its Russian-sourced military equipment like the S-400 air defense systems to Kiev. As Turkiye continually strengthens its strategic autonomy in the New Cold War, neighboring Greece voluntarily submitted itself to becoming one of the US’ top vassals anywhere in the broader region.
As explained in this analysis here about the “Moldovan Highway” that’s being built in “emergency” mode between Romania and Ukraine, Greece is one of the most important terminal points for US military equipment en route to that former Soviet Republic. Furthermore, it envisages facilitating offshore Israeli natural gas exports to Europe via the planned Greece-Israel-Cyprus (GRISCY) pipeline one day, thus explaining its solid ties with Israel despite the latter’s ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza.
By contrast, Turkiye plays no role in facilitating the transit of US military equipment to Ukraine, and its ties with Israel have officially deteriorated due to the aforementioned conflict. Coupled with their unresolved maritime disputes and Turkiye’s troubled ties with its nominal NATO allies over nearly the past decade, it’s understandable why the US decided to turn Greece into one of its top vassals, as well as why some in Greece accept this status due to the regional security dilemma with their neighbor.
From their perspective, it’s better for Greece to balance Turkiye via the US as a junior partner and comply with its new patron’s anti-Russian demands than to risk the US entering into a rapprochement with Turkiye at Greece’s possible expense vis-à-vis their maritime dispute and possibly also Cyprus. Athens therefore decided to strike while the iron was still hot by taking advantage of larger military-strategic dynamics to advance its interests as its leadership considers them to be.
That said, the case can also be made that Greece has gone way too far in this respect since sanctioning Russia, facilitating the transit of US military equipment to Ukraine, and sending its own arms to that country are one thing, but transferring Russian wares without Moscow’s permission are another entirely. Military-technical partnerships are predicated on hard-earned trust that can easily be lost through reckless moves like what was just reported and become practically impossible to ever restore afterwards.
This adversely affects Greece’s objective national interests by risking the scenario of it no longer being able to rely on Russia in this respect, which could greatly limit its policymaking flexibility if the military-strategic dynamics of the New Cold War change in the coming future. So long as Russian-Turkish ties remain solid while US-Turkish ones remain troubled, then there’s no realistic chance of the US dumping Greece for Turkiye as its top regional partner.
Should that change, then Greece would be left in the lurch since it’s abandoning the long-running Russian dimension of its traditional balancing act, which could prove disastrous. The US knows this very well and that’s why it offered Greece to the deal that it did to transfer Russian military wares to Ukraine without Moscow’s permission in order to deepen Athens’ dependence on Washington. Simply put, the US is setting Greece up to become a long-term vassal, but its leaders either don’t realize it or don’t care.