The largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus is Russian. The city of Limassol has 20,000 Russian residents out of a population of 154,000. Russian banks are said to have had between $3 to $4 billion in cross-border loans to Cypriot companies tied to Moscow and around $12bn on deposit with Cypriot banks at the end of last year.
These figures may have been reduced as the wiser depositors moved their monies to safer havens, but Cyprus remains as much a problem for Russia as it does for the EU.
– James Campbell, Partner at the law firm Pillsbury and past adviser to the Russian Federal Securities Commission
It is therefore no surprise that Cyprus Finance Minister is sitting in Moscow. The question is who he is speaking to?
We hear that Gazprom is interested in taking over one of the Cyprus banks, that the Russian naval establishment would like a base in Cyprus to replace its present facilities in Syria and that the oil companies would like preferential rights to the Cyprus drilling zone.