Cypriot and Russian authorities have been playing the EU and the rest of the world for fools since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Both say they want to fight corruption, though they never seem to get around to actually doing anything about it. When American intelligence busted a Russian spy ring in 2010 -- which most famously included redheaded Anna Chapman -- the alleged money-man and SVR (Russian foreign intelligence) point man, Pavel Kapustin (alias: Christopher Metsos), was nabbed on an Interpol warrant in Cyprus and successfully fled because he was conveniently bailed by Cypriot authorities. Nice crime-fighting.
In early 2012, the Guardian reported that a Russian transport ship carrying 60 tons of ammunition purchased by the Syrian government from state-controlled Russian munitions exporter Rosoboronexport pulled into the Cypriot port in a storm and, despite being in clear violation of sanctions, was sent back on its way by Cyprus authorities.
Similarly, key Russian trade partner Iran has long circumvented sanctions through Cypriot front companies. Intelligence Online reported last year: "According to our sources, one of the traders supplying Syria is the small Cypriot company Q-One Energy Ltd, headquartered at Soboh House, Limassol, in the same building as fellow trader Soboh Pentroleum, headed by Aiman Soboh and which works closely with Russian traders. Q-One delivered two shipments of 30,000 tonnes of petrol to Syria on board the Breeze A on March 11 and the Voyager A on March 22."
There are 19 Iranian front companies circumventing U.S. sanctions via Cyprus, according to the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control -- and those are just the ones identified so far.
If Russia does offer Cyprus another bailout, it will be because Russia fears the revelations and strategic losses that would result from the tiny nation moving squarely into the Western sphere of influence. No doubt Putin has been hoping to get the EU to pay the bill for propping up Russian business accounts, backed by Russian banks, in Cyprus. Any cash Russia offers will come under the guise of "fighting corruption," of course. "Don't worry, we'll take care of this cleanup. Nothing to see here, so please don't look."
Sure. Russia has done such a crack job with that so far. The EU is finally trying to do right.
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