In Greece the first of two military transport planes, loaded with defence equipment, has departed from Eleusina for Ukraine. Portable rocket launchers, ammunition and Kalashnikov rifles will be aboard the two C130’s. The shipments will be delivered via Poland.
Athens’ deputy defence minister, Nikos Hardalias, will oversee the dispatch of humanitarian assistance later in the day when two cargo carriers also head for Poland.
The aid comes amid a brewing row between Russia and Greece regarding Athens’ stance over Ukraine. Despite the two Orthodox nations having traditionally strong ties, culturally and politically, Greece has sided firmly with its fellow EU and Nato partners throughout the crisis and given US forces unfettered access to four military bases across the country.
Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has denounced Moscow’s invasion as a violation of international law and called for the violence to end.
Greek fury mounted on Saturday following the deaths of ten members of the country’s large diaspora in Russian air strikes close to Mariupol - home to some 120,000 ethnic Greeks - in south east Ukraine.
On Sunday Russia’s embassy in Athens issued a statement in which it urged Greek politicians, the media and political party leaders to “come round, assume their responsibilities, stop the anti-Russian propaganda and to show level headedness, clarity and seriousness.” It berated Greek officials for failing to show any sympathy for the loss of Russian lives in Donbas and deplored the decision to decorate official buildings and fountains in Athens in Ukrainian colours.