MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The United States tried to urge Greece to support a new round of anti-Russia sanctions, but Athens viewed Russia as an ally, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said.
Kammenos is currently on visit to the United States. On Wednesday, he met Christine Wormuth, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USDP).
"I was asked to extend the sanctions, particularly in connection with Crimea. I explained [to Wormuth] that the Ukrainian issue was very sensitive for Greece as some 300,000 Greeks live in Mariupol [south of Donbass region in southeastern Ukraine] and its neighbourhood, and these people feel safe near with the [Russian] Orthodox Church, " Kammenos told reporters late Wednesday after the meeting.
Greece lost more than €4 billion [$4.5 billion] due to the anti-Russia sanctions, the minister stressed.
Earlier this year, Kammenos repeatedly said that Greece had strong ties with Russia, especially in the area of defense contacts.
In April, Kammenos told Sputnik that Greece intended to continue military-technical cooperation with Russia.
He also expressed hope that the EU sanctions regime against Russia would end soon, so that Athens and Moscow could continue with other agreements.
Russia's relations with the West deteriorated significantly over Ukraine crisis. In 2014, the European Union, alongside the United States and a number of other nations, accused Russia of interfering with Ukraine's internal affairs, and imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow.
Russian authorities have repeatedly denied allegations and underlined that sanctions imposed by the West threatened global stability.