Cyprus orders missiles amid Turkey gas tensions

Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz is escorted by Turkish Navy frigate TCG Gemlik (F-492) in the eastern Mediterranean Sea off Cyprus. (File photo: Reuters)

Cyprus has signed contracts for weapons orders to bolster its defenses at a time of heightened tensions with Turkey over maritime gas deposits, its defense ministry confirmed Friday.

“Contracts were signed related to upgrading specific weapons systems at an estimated cost of 240 million” euros, the ministry said in a statement.

“Given the sensitivity of national security issues, no further details will be made available at present,” it said.

A source told AFP the Cypriot army signed a $165 million contract in December with European manufacturer MBDA Missile Systems for short-range Mistral surface-to-air missiles.

The information, from a source close to the matter who did not want to be named, corroborated an article in the Tribune, a French financial newspaper.

MBDA also reportedly signed a contract worth 90 million euros for anti-ship Exocet missiles to bolster coastal defenses.

Contacted by AFP, MBDA said it did not wish to comment.

Turkey has in recent months sent ships to explore the Exclusive Economic Zone of EU member state Cyprus, despite warnings from Washington and Brussels.

The Mediterranean island is divided between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and a breakaway northern third recognized only by Ankara.

Turkey has had troops stationed in the country since 1974 when it invaded and occupied its northern third after a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.

In December, Ankara deployed a military drone in northern Cyprus amid growing regional tensions over a Turkish maritime and security deal with Libya’s UN recognized government.

Cyprus, Greece and Israel in early January signed an agreement to build a 2,000-kilometer gas pipeline, known as the EastMed project, amid Turkish hostility to the deal.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:57 - GMT 06:57
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