Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 207

Russian support for Kurdish rebels–official or unofficial–is only one issue roiling Russian-Turkish relations these days, however. This past weekend another source of conflict between the two countries–a deal by which Moscow is to deliver S-300 air defense complexes to the Greek Cypriot government on Cyprus–was back in the news when Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides on November 7 denied that delivery of the missiles would be delayed. The denial by Clerides followed reports that the S-300 missiles would be stored on the Greek island of Crete as a means of defusing tensions between Ankara and Athens. Turkish authorities have decried the Russian-Cypriot deal and have threatened to take military action to prevent deployment of the S-300s. The United States and the European Union have urged that the deal be canceled so as to prevent a further worsening of tensions in the region.

The S-300 deal was finalized by Russia and Cyprus in January of 1997. Delivery of the missiles was originally scheduled to take place this past summer. Amid a series of high-level visits by Cypriot leaders to Moscow in July, however, it was announced that delivery would be pushed back to November. In his remarks on November 7 Clerides did not say when the missiles were now expected to arrive, but he presumably was indicating that November remains a target date. Talks in Ankara between Turkish and Russian Foreign Ministry officials, also held on November 7, apparently failed to yield any progress in resolving differences over the missile deal (Itar-Tass, November 8).