President Obama has found a house divided during his final trip to Europe
At the end of October, one of the Russian navy’s main battleships, a guided-missile destroyer called the Smetlivy, set out from its homeport in Crimea and headed west through the Black Sea and into the Aegean. It had two stops to make. The first was in Greece—a member of NATO and the European Union—where the ship was invited to a maritime festival as part of the Greek-Russian Year of Culture. From there it sailed on toward the Mediterranean to join the Russian naval group involved in the bombardment of Syria.
The journey would, in other times, have caused a scandal in the U.S. and Europe. The Smetlivy is part of the Black Sea Fleet, whose commanders executed the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014. Most of them have been under strict Western sanctions ever since. On top of that, the U.S. and E.U. have both accused Russia of committing war crimes in Syria. So Greece was, to put it mildly, not in step with its allies when it hosted a Russian destroyer on its way to the Syrian coast.
Yet none of those allies voiced their objections at the time, and President Obama did not mention it during his visit to Athens this week. The closest he came was a glancing reference on Tuesday to “the importance of keeping sanctions” in place, including E.U. sanctions, until the conflict in Ukraine is settled. Read More
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