Tsipras tells Russia Greece helped prevent broader EU sanctions

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told senior Russian lawmakers here Thursday that Athens had played an active role in preventing an expansion of anti-Russia sanctions earlier this year.

“We used the small force we have to help avoid further sectoral sanctions,” said Mr. Tsipras in comments carried by Russian state news agencies. “You probably know that the position of the new Greek government is that sanctions don΄t lead anywhere, they΄re a dead end.”

European officials considered further sanctions against Russia in late January amid a surge in violence in eastern Ukraine, where Russia is backing separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces, but never imposed them. After new peace deal was signed in February, European leaders agreed on a plan that would likely keep broad sectoral sanctions in place until the end of the year.

Mr. Tsipras, who is in tough talks with European leaders about much-needed international funding, is on a two-day visit to Moscow that has produced no major announcements, but allowed him and Russian leaders to show joint defiance of Brussels.

Mr. Tsipras also praised Russia΄s contribution to counterterrorism across Europe.

“We are seeing that there is an unsymmetrical threat from the south, from jihadists. We cannot oppose this danger without Russia,” he said, expressing hopes that Greece could be a “bridge between the EU. and Russia.”