BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:00 P.M.) – The Russian Navy will no longer be allowed to dock and refuel in Cyprus after a last-minute U.S. Senate bill was passed on Tuesday.
Led by warhawk senators Marco Rubio (R) and Bob Melendez (D), the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee bill requires Cyprus to block all Russian naval vessels from docking at their ports as part of their arms embargo against Moscow.
“I am thrilled to see such strong bipartisan support for this important piece of legislation to chart a new path forward for the eastern Mediterranean,” said Menendez. “Israel, Greece, and Cyprus are key partners of the United States, and today’s vote confirms that we need a new strategy that reflects our mutual interests. The Eastern Mediterranean is a region of central importance to our country, and it must therefore figure more prominently in how we allocate diplomatic energy, engagement and resources. I look forward to working with my colleagues so that this important legislation is swiftly considered and approved by the full Senate.”
“This is an important step towards a comprehensive regional strategy for the U.S. in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of HALC. “Positive regional trends – especially cooperation on energy and security – will be accelerated by this Act. The leadership of Senators Menendez and Rubio and of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will make the region more stable and prosperous and will advance both American interests and values.”
Cypriot President President Nicos Anastasiades called the new bill ‘unfortunate’, saying that it will “affect the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus to a large extent”.
“To date, facilities to any country were always granted for humanitarian reasons and I don’t think such conditions can be set, especially with a country, and I’m talking about America, with which we seek further strengthening of our relations. I am under the impression that the amendment was unfortunate,” he said.