Greece decided to eject Russian diplomats under the pressure from the European Union and the US in order to favor its partners ahead of the NATO summit, said Igor Pshenichnikov, expert for the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, in a conversation with TASS.
"It is clear that Greece’s authorities made the decision to expel Russian diplomatic staff members under the pressure of their advisers from Brussels and Washington. This is a gift that [Greek Prime Minister] Alexis Tsipras made for the NATO summit," he said, answering the question on why it was done now, as the country had not expelled Russian diplomats following the Skripal poisoning case. "Any excuse can be found, and it is not worth talking about. May it weigh on the conscience of Greece’s current authorities."
"Of course, it is being done for a reason. Bad relations with Russia are a condition for Tsipras’ good relations with Washington and Brussels. This is obvious," the expert said.
The Western countries do not quite like benevolent relations between Athens and Moscow both at the official level and between ordinary citizens, Pshenichnikov said. "All of this definitely irritates both Brussels and Washington. We know that the Americans are constantly instructing the Greeks, so to say, to scale back Russian-Greek cooperation both at the official level and at the level of public diplomacy and creating obstacles all the time," the expert noted.
"Still, the Greeks at the local level - local authorities and municipal entities - are being guided not by Washington’s instructions, but by their sentiments and friendship with Russia, give them that."
The Athens daily newspaper Kathimerini reported, citing sources, that Greece’s government decided to eject two Russian diplomats and ban entry to the country for two more. According to the newspaper, Athens is blaming them for intervention in the country’s domestic affairs and actions that undermine its national security. Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos later confirmed this information on Skai TV live.