Nuland Tells Cyprus To Cut Russian Ties – Pressures Anastasiades To Accept Nato Plan For Turkish Troops In Cyprus

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Yves here. We were one of the few sites to follow the brutal handling of the Cyprus banking system when one of its major banks got wobbly in 2013. Cyprus was demonized as a money laundering center, when its main sin was that it served as a conduit for inbound investment into Russia, including investment by large, well-recognized companies. The reason for structuring investments via entities in Cyprus was that that enabled them to be subject to British law, which investors greatly preferred to relying on Russian law and courts. Cyprus thus has a significant amount of its economy dependent on lawyers and bankers to structure these deals. The ECB lowered the boom and forced bail-ins, which were more severe than they needed to be by virtue of one of the major banks being restructured in a way that led to a significant subsidy to a Greek bank that bought some of its operations. In other words, while something may well have needed to be done with the Cyprus banks, the brutality of the operation was driven by geopolitics, not the professed reasons.

The geopolitical angle of the West’s meddling in Cyprus a bit more obvious in this John Helmer sighting.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

The US is intensifying the pressure on Cyprus to accept a secret NATO plan to keep Turkish forces on the island.

Victoria Nuland, the State Department official in charge of regime change in Russia and Ukraine, met for talks last week with the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and with Turkish Cypriot figures. The State Department and US Embassy in Nicosia have kept silent on what was said. A well-informed Cypriot source reports Nuland “was in Cyprus to pre-empt any likelihood of future deepening in relations with Russia. Anastasiades may not want to, but he may have no other option.” A second Cypriot political source said: “[Nuland] will try to blackmail him. I’m not sure how he will react.”

Andros Kyprianou, head of AKEL, the Cyprus Communist Party running strongly against Anastasiades’s party in next month’s parliamentary election, issued an unusual warning against the Nuland plan. “For us”, Kyprianou said, there is only one acceptable outcome to negotiations between the Greek and Turkish communities for the reunification of the island. This is a “solution that ends the occupation and colonization, restoring the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic, based on UN resolutions, the High Level Agreements, International and European Law. The solution is to demilitarize Cyprus and excludes any guarantee and intervention rights in the internal affairs of the country by foreign forces.”



Right – current map, showing British and Turkish occupied territory;right, Turkish troops on parade in the north

The day before Nuland’s arrival, Anastasiades hinted that he favours a military plan so long as it has European government backing. The Cyprus government, Anastasiades said of the communal settlement negotiations, they are “proceeding in some partnerships not excluding defense cooperation, and it is expected that [there will be a] positive contribution of Britain in resolving the Cyprus problem.”

British forces already occupy extensive military bases on Cyprus. Over the years these have been used for signals intelligence and attack operations against Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. The UK protectorate was one of the terms the Cypriots accepted for an end to their fight to liberate the island from British occupation during the 1950s. The 1960 “treaty of guarantee” preserved the British bases. It provided for Greece and Turkey also to “guarantee the independence, territorial integrity, and security of the Republic of Cyprus.”

After its attack and military occupation of the north in 1974, Turkey has insisted on keeping its forces on the island as a security “guarantee”, and refuses to comply with United Nations (UN) resolutions ordering their withdrawal.

US military commanders and political leaders have never advocated Turkish withdrawal from the island, or compliance with the UN resolutions. Instead, they have recommended incorporating both parts of Cyprus into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The political and military commands in Ankara have been reluctant to accept a NATO solution for Cyprus because they object to what they regard as “dilution” of their army on the island. The Nuland plan is the latest attempt to give Ankara what it wants, and override Greek Cypriot objections. Nuland has also told Anastasiades she wants to accelerate agreement on the terms of settlement before the US presidential election in November.

Anastasiades has already declared himself in favour of joining NATO by signing the preliminary Partnership for Peace programme, but AKEL has been able to block it. For the time being, Cyprus is not a NATO member, and cannot accept another NATO base on its territory. “How can Nuland now push through a Turkish base on the island”, a well-known Cypriot strategist asks – “that isn’t a Turkish base and isn’t a NATO base either, but meets Ankara’s demand for a military ‘guarantee’, and will be accepted by Anastasiades?”

This, political sources in Nicosia say, is what Nuland (below, right) and Anastasiades (left) discussed last week.




The US Embassy issued no press release after the talks, and neither did Anastasiades. The local newspaper supporting Anastasiades and his Democratic Rally(DISY) party, the Cyprus Mail, headlined a report on their meeting: “Nuland expresses US support for Cyprus peace process”. Promises of US Government cash and US investment in Cyprus as the financial reward for Anastasiades’ agreement was highlighted, the military plan downplayed. “’We also noted that US investment in Cyprus is up sevenfold over the last two years’”, the newspaper quoted Nuland as saying. “There was a lot of excitement in energy about what is happening here. Nuland said that they also talked about security relations and regional relations.” Other pro-American and pro-NATO newspapers in Cyprus declared that if Anastasiades will agree to the deal Nuland has put on the table, Cypriots are “awaiting the dollars of the solution.”

The Turkish regime in the north says it is counting on a parallel payoff. At Nuland’s Turkish talks there was a UN representative, Lisa Buttenheim. Buttenheim, an American, has served as a UN official in Jerusalem, Kosovo, and Belgrade.

Buttenheim (below, left) is not the only UN official engaged in the Cyprus negotiations in favour of a NATO “guarantee” of Cyprus. A presidential-level Cypriot source says Espen Barth Eide (right), Buttenheim’s superior and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus, “is working on NATO guarantee through his party comrade and childhood friend, the current Norwegian Secretary-General of NATO.” Barth Eide is a former Norwegian defence minister and foreign minister, whose career has been advanced by former party leader and former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg became NATO’s Secretary-General in October 2014.



A US Embassy cable from Oslo of 2008, published by Wikileaks, has reported Barth Eide as “a skilled and subtle interagency player who is largely pro-U.S…On several important issues Barth Eide has been helpful, such as missile defense (where he helped prevent a Norwegian veto of NATO plans)…[he] also takes pains to stress NATO as the cornerstone of GON [Government of Norway] security policy and the importance of the Norwegian-U.S. relationship.”.

The State Department has provided no clarification of Nuland’s talks with Anastasiades; it has repeated its endorsement of Turkey’s value to NATO. On April 20, State’s spokesman said: “I would only say that – I’d only repeat what I said before, and that’s that we value our relationship with Turkey. We certainly value our alliance with them through NATO.”

For weeks now in Moscow, there have been public hints that Nuland has resuscitated the scheme for withdrawing Turkish forces under the Turkish flag, then returning them under a NATO flag. In Nicosia in December, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that such a scheme would be unacceptable to Russia. “The sides should reach agreements that would provide these security guarantees on a fundamentally new basis,” Lavrov said, “which will be acceptable to both Cypriot communities…This role should be primarily played by the UN Security Council.” For more details, read this.

In February, Lavrov’s spokesman at the ministry in Moscow attacked statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his “calls on the Cypriot Turks to take a tough, uncompromising stance in the ongoing intercommunal talks in Cyprus, including on territorial delimitation, a very sensitive issue. This is in stark contrast to Ankara’s statements on its commitment to facilitating a peaceful settlement on the island in the near future. It is obvious that by addressing such calls to one of the parties to the inter-Cypriot dialogue, Turkey’s leaders are rudely interfering in the negotiation process with a view of promoting their own interests.”

On April 5, just before Nuland’s arrival in Nicosia, senior Russian and Cypriot officials, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov (below, left) and the Permanent Secretary of the Cyprus Foreign Ministry, Alexandros Zenon (right), met in Moscow.



Their communique said that “during an exchange of views on the Cyprus settlement, the Russian side reiterated its commitment to the efforts made in the framework of the continuing intra-Cypriot talks under the UN aegis to promote a fair and lasting solution on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, a solution that would meet the interests of both Cypriot communities and stem from their voluntary consent.”

As for the terms to be agreed, Moscow has added: “We oppose any attempts at imposing on the participants of the intra-Cypriot negotiations any formulas of settlement, artificial negotiating schedules, and arbitration.” That’s three strikes in a row — one at NATO; one at Nuland; and one at Barth Eide.

On April 15, the Foreign Ministry added an unusually explicit criticism of Turkish military deployments “ in Northern Cyprus while Washington does not object.”

In the Cyprus opinion polls ahead of the May 22 election, Anastasiades’ DISY party has been losing ground to AKEL, and also to the small nationalist parties.




Source:,_2016 The polls indicate that the top three issues for voters are the economic situation; unemployment; and the terms for the inter-communal settlement. A large majority of Cypriots is opposed to any form of security guarantee or the presence of Turkish troops on the island.

Anastasiades has been forced into publicly defending himself and his associates from widely published, widely believed allegations of corruptly protecting their wealth when, in return for the European Union’s bailout of the Cyprus banks, Anastasiades agreed to the “haircut” – the confiscation of Cypriot depositors’ bank accounts on March 25, 2013. Anastasiades has also been linked to extortion by a former deputy attorney-general now on trial for abuse of power; and to privatization scams.

The president told a press conference of selected reporters on April 18 that he and his government have had “zero tolerance” for official corruption.


He claimed his administration had been aiming particularly at “politically exposed persons [PEPs] by giving control to approved auditors for disclosure of their property declarations.” For more details on the international rules for PEPs, read this.

One of the leading investigative media in Cyprus, Second Reading (Δέφτερη Ανάγνωση), has recently reported on the involvement of Anastasiades, his law partner Theofanis Philippou, and their Imperium management group in transactions with a well-known PEP from Russia, Leonid Lebedev. He is now a fugitive from Russian charges of grand larceny and fraud. In 2011 the Anastasiades law firm helped Lebedev obtain Cyprus citizenship, which Philippou later concealed in a Cyprus court proceeding against Lebedev by a German bank. The Anastasiades law firm and Imperium have also set up offshore company schemes for Lebedev, and a Cyprus trust for moving untaxed cash out of Cyprus into US banks.

Lebedev has introduced his offshore business record into court cases in London and in New York, where he is claiming he is owed $2 billion for oil company shares from Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, former shareholders in the TNK-BP oil company. They say they bought Lebedev out for $600 million between 2005 and 2006. Tracing that money is now crucial to the outcome of the New York Supreme Court case. For background on the court deliberations so far, read the backfile.

Last week, lawyers for Vekselberg and Blavatnik asked Supreme Court judge Salliann Scarpulla to make an official request to the High Court of Ireland so that they can subpoena witnesses and obtain documents revealing — they have told the court — that Lebedev and his associates used a Dublin front company, Coral Petroleum, to take, then hide the $600 million, after the payoff from Vekselberg and Blavatnik.

According to the publicly accessible court files, if the New York judge agrees to issue her request, and the Irish court accepts it, then the “owner, director, employee and/or agent” of Coral Petroleum and its accountant in Dublin, Roberts Nathan, will be ordered to reveal all “communications between Coral and Lebedev (and/or his agents and representatives.” Since 2011 the principal agents and representatives at Coral Petroleum have been Philippou, the Anastasiades law firm, and their Imperium Group.



So will the New York and Dublin courts identify Anastasiades and Philippou as the key witnesses in Lebedev’s $2 billion claim? And is there evidence of Anastasiades’ personal involvement in Lebedev’s financial transactions through Cyprus which may expose him to the same test of transparency and propriety he claimed publicly on April 18 to apply to other officials in his government?

On April 18, Second Reading reported on the Lebedev case, and published several questions for Anastasiades to answer: “According to many recent Cyprus press reports, you and your partner, Theofanis Philippou, were in charge of the Anastasiades law firm and the associated Imperium group of companies which arranged the grant of Cyprus citizenship and passport to Lebedev, when he was a Politically Exposed Person according to the Cyprus money-laundering rules? Are you aware of the criminal offences in Cyprus of Lebedev and his Cyprus lawyer, Mr Philippou, your law partner, including perjury in the Cyprus courts; violation of the Aliens & Immigration Law and regulations; concealment of the proceeds of crime in violation of the Central Bank regulations on admitting Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) to Cyprus; and money-laundering on a billion-dollar scale?” So far the president hasn’t replied.

Does the evidence of the Lebedev case provide opportunity for US officials like Nuland to pressure Anastasiades with threats of a criminal investigation of the Lebedev case evidence by US prosecutors?

A Cypriot analyst following Anastasiades closely says: “you can see Anastasiades agreeing to Nuland’s plan for camouflaging the Turkish forces in northern Cyprus as a NATO partnership for peace. But don’t forget that any kind of deal will surface, and something like that is a non-starter among people, even some of his own supporters. In secret he can do one thing, and say another thing in public. The difference between this and the haircut [of March 2013] is that with the Eurogroup Anastasiades was making the final decision. But here [for the inter-communal settlement] it is the entire population. This is a very important difference.”

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      1. JTMcPhee

        Yah, Bill –what is is you offer, no “additional forces” going in AT THIS MOMENT? Artfully phrased.

        Here’s one report of the military forces arrayed on the island– it’s even friendly to your American Exceptionalism viewpoint:

        The Turkish military forces in Northern Cyprus, officially Cyprus Turkish Peace Force Command (Turkish: Kıbrıs Türk Barış Kuvvetleri Komutanlığı) [1] (Turkish: Kıbrıs’taki Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri) is the Turkish garrison on Cyprus. In 1974 Turkish troops invaded Cyprus following a Greek Cypriot coup (organized and supported by the Greek government, which was still in the hands of a military junta) which wanted to force union with Greece, occupying the northern third of the island. The invasion force, which consisted of about 40,000 soldiers and 200 tanks, subsequently was reduced to a garrison of 17,000 troops. It outnumbers the Greek military contingent on the island, which is supplemented by the Greek Cypriot National Guard of 12,000 active and 75,000 reserves. Air reinforcement of the Turkish troops can be effected, if necessary, within hours.[2] Nevertheless, the unresolved dispute over Cyprus complicates Turkish participation in NATO and remains an obstacle to NATO’s effectiveness in the region.[3

        So, THOSE Turkish forces. There on Cyprus, or a quick 40-mile flight away, as a result of Great Game play, in which our Great US Sneaky Pete-ery helped encourage the ruling Greek junta that was “the Greek government” only a coup that the US actors connived at and were happy to see succeed. Setting the stage for a lot of what has followed in poor old Greece.

        remains an obstacle to NATO’s effectiveness in the region.” Yah, what is that supposed to mean again? What, me worry? All those little Machiavellians sneaking around doing stupid sh!t to achieve what end(s), again? “In the National Interest”?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Greece isn’t happy about the Turks in Cyprus period.

      I was in Greece about 25 years ago when poppy Bush was president and paid a visit. That was the first glimpse I had of US power first hand – there were hundreds of suits talking into their sleeves lining the major route through Athens taken by the Bush motorcade. The whole city was essentially shut down and I couldn’t believe that the US could project that kind of power in a foreign country. Later while I was at the Thessalonike airport coincidentally at the same time Bush was there, our flight was delayed due to a bomb threat presumably directed at Bush. Never did find out if it was a real bomb or not.

      Don’t remember the ostensible reason for the Bush visit to Greece but I do remember the Greeks wanting the question Bush about the Turks occupying Cyprus and if the US would help end it. I remember thinking Bush probably doesn’t even know where Cyprus is but even if he did, the US wasn’t interested and weren’t going to do a damn thing about it.

      After 25 years of not seeming to car at all, now the US wants to make the problem worse by polishing apples for Erdogan for some reason I really cannot fathom. Cui bono indeed.

  1. craazyboy

    Looks pretty clear cut to me. Turkey is an ally. Russia most definitely not. Turkey could use somewhere to store all that surplus ME oil they’ve been buying. The USA(Nuland) can even kick in a few bucks for infrastructure. It all makes sense. Win-Win all around.

  2. ambrit

    Poor Cyprus. We might as well revive the Crusader Kingdom of Cyprus. Are there any Lusignans alive today?

    1. craazyboy

      It’s rumored Ms. Nuland is a direct descendant of Helen of Troy. There is a family feud going on here for longer than the Hatfields & McCoys!

    2. DJG

      Read Altai by Wu Ming, which should be available in English. Not sure if any Lusignans were alive after the Turkish invasion of the 1600s.

  3. christos

    Sorry to say but its not a win win situation and this is coming from someone who lives on the island. No greek will feel comfortable knowing that there will be a Turkish base/bases

    1. different clue

      I suspect craazyboy was being sarcastic. It once again goes to show that internet text-on-a-screen is a poor place and way to try conveying sarcasm.

  4. DJG

    That Nuland is still around is all that I have to know about HRClinton’s vaunted foreign-policy experience. That Nuland is still around is all that I have to know about Obama, American exceptionalism, and this supposedly scandal-free administration. And the Democratic elites want to get all snotty about Trump?

    After the streaming of the video-assassination of Osama bin Laden of the last few days, and after this maneuver, which is assassination of a small and vulnerable state, I respect George Orwell even more as a voice of prophecy.

    1. apber

      With Nuland, the ultimate neocon, we get WWIII in a Clinton Presidency. The key to Trump will be his proposed cabinet, VP, advisors etc. If nary a dual citizen neocon or a Goldman Treasury Secretary, we may have a chance; otherwise Trump will be outed as just another globalist stooge.

  5. ltr

    I am really really worried about how aggressive our foreign policy is, and this remarkable essay shows how dangerous our policy with respect to Russia can be.

  6. RBHoughton

    Resuscitating the Turkish part of Cyprus may be a great money-maker for Ms Nuland’s friends. You can wander though entire deserted towns and villages. Everyone’s voted with their feet and land can be had at a fraction of its cost in the south. It used to have the added advantage of being immune to extradition requests (remember Polly Peck?) but I am unsure if that continues.

    This looks like another aspect of Erdogan’s vice-like grip on the reproductive glands of the European Commission and ECB. It really is quite funny to see the two countries directing EU policy these days are USA and Turkey.

  7. Punxsutawney

    Where Neocons like Nuland go, death and destruction follow in their wake.

    Look at Ukraine.

  8. EoinW

    I have been thinking that the NeoCon response to a Trump Presidency will be assassination. Naturally an assassination blamed on some left wing fanatic – will the next Oswald please stand up! Could it be, however, that the NeoCons recognize their problem isn’t Trump, it’s the people supporting Trump and their anti-establishment views? In that case, the only way to whip them into line is falling back on the most tried and true form of of social conditioning: nationalism/patriotism. Perhaps it won’t be a countdown to knock off Trump before January. Instead we might already be into a countdown on a shooting war with Russia. This wouldn’t just rally all Americans to the imperial cause, it was also force President Trump to rely on his nationalistic traits.

    I wonder if the NeoCons could be that clever. They have succeeded in running the most powerful country in the world for 15 years in spite of countless disasters. Maybe they are clever enough to achieve their next great misadventure, one ending in nuclear war.

  9. Merf56

    The fact that Vicki Nuland is still walking around free is a perversion of all that is sane moral and rational. She ought to be disappeared immediately to somebody’s secret black site – and I clearly don’t care whose. And I have some ideas about who else belongs in one of those ‘spas’ as well;)

  10. Merf56

    I certainly see Russia as more friendly to Cyprus than the EU has been or continues to be. The US vilifies Russia for its money laundering oligarchs when we have the very same. Just in less flamboyant suits…

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