It’s premature to suggest that Greece might actually leave NATO, much less the EU, since Athens gets considerable benefits from both partnerships, but it’s certainly time to ask where that country’s sympathies truly lie. More than a shared Orthodox faith, buttressed by hazy paeans to long-dead Byzantium, is at work now in the relationship between Athens and Moscow.
The involvement of Russian intelligence in present-day Greek turmoil plays an important role, albeit one seldom discussed openly. Greece has long been a playground for Kremlin spies. During the Cold War, KGB operatives worked in Greece with a degree of impunity they found in no other NATO country, while Soviet spies penetrated Greek politics and society very deeply.
Under Putin, such covert linkages have been reestablished, and secret Russian activities in Greece today enjoy a degree of openness they never had in Soviet times. Since Syriza came to power, the already significant contingent of Russian intelligence officers serving in Athens under official covers (usually as diplomats) has been bolstered, according to Western security officials. Friendly meetings between Greek officials and representatives of the SVR and GRU, Russian military intelligence, detected by NATO intelligence, have been a cause of discussion and concern in Brussels, Washington, and beyond.
It’s not like Syriza has been hiding all of this.
It’s time we stopped pretending NATO’s southern flank means anything anymore, and started acting accordingly.