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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis delivered an emphatic address to the US Congress on Tuesday, arguing that Russia “must be defeated” in Ukraine to help preserve democratic ideals around the world.
Politicians from both parties warmly applauded Mr Mitsotakis, reflecting the deepening relationship between Athens and Washington on the political, military and economic fronts.
The prime minister, whose country had historically enjoyed close relations with Moscow, went on the attack in addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We naively ignored the warning signs flashing red. And we even ignored Russia's actions in Syria and its annexation of Crimea. We know now that we were wrong,” Mr Mitsotakis said.
He lambasted Russia’s destruction of Mariupol, describing it as “a Greek city founded by Catherine the Great in 1778 to resettle Greeks from Crimea fleeing Ottoman rule, laid to waste”.
Mr Mitsotakis said Athens cannot be neutral and “indifferent to a struggle that reminds us so much of our own”.
He criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin as trying to disrupt the post-Second World War international order.
“Mr Putin is striving to create a world in which power is for the strong state but not the small … in which territorial claims are made on the basis of historical fantasies and enforced by aggression, rather than decided by peace treaties,” Mr Mitsotakis told the US Congress.
“He will not succeed. He must be defeated.”
The battle goes beyond Ukraine and will send a message “to all authoritarian leaders that historical revisionism and open acts of aggression that violate international law will not be tolerated”.
Mr Mitsotakis did not mention Greece's historical nemesis Turkey by name in his 40-minute-speech, but was clear in his criticism of Ankara and its “aggression” towards Cyprus.
“I ask you, esteemed members of Congress, not to forget an open wound that has caused Hellenism unending pain over the past 48 years. I am referring to the invasion and subsequent division of Cyprus,” he said.
Mr Mitsotakis met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday and was received by President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday.
Greece has granted Washington unfettered access to four of its military bases and has started importing US liquefied gas at a port near Athens.
The US and Greece also recently ratified the Mutual Defence Co-operation agreement.
The Pentagon agreed to upgrade Greece’s F-16 fighter jet inventory and Greek media reported that Washington is considering the sale of F-35 jets to Athens.