Greece denies rift with Russia over Syria flights

Greece on Wednesday denied it had angered Moscow by examining a US request to ban Russian supply flights to Syria.

Athens: Greece on Wednesday denied it had angered Moscow by examining a US request to ban Russian supply flights to Syria.

"No displeasure or any other negative comment has been expressed from anyone," foreign ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras said in a statement.

Moscow on Tuesday said it had demanded answers from NATO members Greece and Bulgaria after Sofia banned Russian supply flights to Syria from its airspace and Athens said it had been asked by Washington to do the same.

"If anyone -- in this case our Greek and Bulgarian partners -- has any doubts, then they, of course, should explain what the problem is," deputy Russian foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov told the Interfax news agency.

"If we are talking about them taking some sort of restrictive or prohibitive measures at the Americans` request, then this raises questions about their sovereign right to take decisions," he said.

Giving an entirely different take, the Greek foreign ministry spokesman insisted on Wednesday that "Greece`s handling of the issue had been greatly appreciated."

Washington has expressed concern following reports suggesting Moscow may be boosting military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and had sent a military advance team to the war-torn country.

Greece said it had received a request from Washington to prevent two state civil aviation Russian planes flying through its airspace between September 1 and 24. 

Speaking to AFP on Tuesday, a Greek government spokesperson said Russia had first requested use of its airspace "25 days ago" but had later decided to use an alternative route. 

Asked if Athens would refuse permission for Russian overflights in future, the spokesperson said the situation was "delicate" but that Russia would likely avoid using the route. 

Vladimir Djabarov, vice-president of the Russian foreign affairs council on Tuesday told state press agency TASS that Russia was only supplying "humanitarian cargo" to Syria, saying it was "not profitable to transport weapons by plane". 

Djabarov also dismissed the importance of using Greek airspace, saying that the majority of flights to Syria went via the Caucasus and Iran.

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