At a crucial juncture in European security, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Prime Minister of Greece will visit Russia in a few days.

The clouds of war are growing over the Black Sea.

Moscow’s relations to the West have been strained by the presence of tens and thousands of Russian troops at the border with Ukraine. Both sides blame each other.

A Russia-Ukraine conflict is a real possibility. This will result in many losers.

The Greek side confronts three myths and three facts in such tension.

Myth One: Athens can play an intermediary role

Many Greek governments often underestimate their potential, and this is an intense desire. Athens does not have the diplomatic capital to serve as a mediator between Russia and the West.

While it may have been a wise strategic decision to strengthen relations with the United States, our special relationship with Russia has an unintended side effect. The Kremlin regards us as an integral part the West in any case.

Myth 2: Greece must always identify itself with the West

First, the West isn’t a single country. America is not the same country as France or Germany, and treats Russia differently. There are many different views and approaches within the US to Moscow relations.

In a world where self-help is common, the national interest must be considered first.

Without receiving any tangible rewards, the Greek governments have been known to act as “King’s Most Royal” in relation to Russia. It is important to remember that sometimes, Western powers “exchanged” Greek law with the legitimacy Turkey.

There can’t be a foreign policy that values principles and values in the real world.

Myth 3: The Black Sea is far from us and we have no national vital interests

The Greek side cannot ignore the Black Sea for at least four reasons.

First, Athens is morally bound to protect the interests of the Greek population (approximately 300,000. people in Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia), who are quite pessimistic about the future of the region.

Second, the region’s situation has a negative impact on Greek investments, which amount to hundreds and millions of euro.

Third, Russia is a permanent UN Security Council member with all the entails to resolve the Cyprus and other regional conflict (eg Libya, Syria).

The final thing is the strengthening of Turkey’s position in the region (eg, drone sales in Ukraine).

There are three truths to this story that go beyond the three myths.

The first truth: Russia’s foreign policy is not one that Greece believes in

Over the past twenty years, relations between Greece and Russia have seen many changes.

The Simitis government didn’t show any interest in improving relations between Greece and Russia.

The significant improvement in bilateral relations between 2004 and 2009 is credited to Costas Karamanlis.

In the context of confrontation with the creditors troika, the Tsipras government initially sought to bring Russia closer to itself.

Moscow was shocked by the deportation in July 2018 of two Russian diplomats. Athens hadn’t foreseen this move.

This means that the Greek side has never been able to form a stable policy toward Russia.

Second truth: Russia and Turkey convergence of interest poses a threat for Greece

The relationship between Turkey and Russia does not seem as fleeting as Western officials wish.

Despite their differences, both countries share the same concerns as well as the same desire to create a multipolar international system.

It is striking that the rapid improvement in Russian-Turkish relations coincides closely with the decline of Greek-Russian relations.

Turkey’s invasive policies in Syria and Libya were initiated when it felt secure behind it. Turkey can pursue a revisionist strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean without fearing Russia.

The third truth: Russia’s relationship must be strengthened

Our country’s position in a world of rapidly changing power relations is becoming more fragile and weaker.

Athens has had a camp for many years and that will not change in the near future.

Multidimensional diplomacy is essential for small and medium-sized countries to survive.

Athens cannot afford to ignore Moscow, even in times of increasing tension with the US or the EU. The Greek side must emphasize ‘low policy’ issues without showing indifference towards Russian sensibilities and concerns.

Manos Karaagiannis, Associate Professor at King’s College London, is a professor in the Department of Defense Studies and the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies.