MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Greece this week, the Kremlin said today, his first official trip to an EU member state in almost a year.
He will meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on the May 27-28 visit to discuss economic ties and energy projects, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Putin, whose country is under Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, was last in Europe in June, when he visited Italy and held talks with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Pope Francis.
In Greece, the Russian leader will also join celebrations for the 1,000th anniversary of the Russian presence at the ancient monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites.
Russia and Greece are both largely Orthodox Christian countries and share close religious ties. Putin has often talked about his strong Orthodox faith while Tsipras is an avowed atheist.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has also said he will attend the Mount Athos celebrations.
Tsipras visited Moscow for talks with Putin twice last year, in April and June, ahead of his reelection in September.
Pavlopoulos visited Moscow in January, meeting Putin to discuss strengthening ties.