A Greek government spokesman announced yesterday that Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles have arrived on the island of Crete. The spokesman refused to provide any details of the delivery, other than to say that the missiles had reached their destination. He did not say whether yesterday’s delivery included all of the missile complexes due to be sent to Crete (Reuters, Itar-Tass, April 22).
The S-300s were originally intended for Cyprus. But the Russian-Cyprus missile deal, signed in early 1997, was highly controversial. The Turkish government, which maintains a strong military presence on the divided island, warned that it would resort to military means, if necessary, to ensure that the missiles were not deployed on Cyprus. The sale also drew strong criticism from the United States and the European Union, each of which argued that delivery of the missiles to Cyprus would exacerbate tensions in the region.
Those and related pressures led the Greek government to push for a compromise which would bring the S-300s to the Greek island of Crete rather than to Cyprus. Russia, which offered no objections to the change in plans, had largely kept silent about when the delivery of the S-300s would take place. Although the West welcomed the compromise agreement, the Turkish government had said publicly that it opposed delivery of the missiles to Crete as well.
YELTSIN TO VISIT JAPAN LATER THIS YEAR.