What follows here is a warning, a thought, an unlikely outcome but one that the EU should be concerned about.

I worry about the Russian angle of the Greek crisis.

I think that the only opportunity the EU has to force the Greeks to keep the debt deal they agreed to before Syriza rose to power is to threaten to dry up the Greek banking system overnight. Trust in Greek banks by Greek citizens is currently evaporating. Greek banks are already experiencing a run. But my concern with this move is that it would make EU and especially Germany look cruel and insensitive and that  Putin may seize the moment, step in,  and provide the liquidity the Greek banks need to be solvent.  Emerge as a savior in the eyes of the Greek people.  He could do to the EU what he did to Ukraine, cut it in two with a piece of it that responds to him.  Moreover this move could cost Russia nothing, he could bring the euros in to make Greece solvent as a guarantee,  and then take them out in a few months. Because Greece can function if it doesn’t have to pay it’s gigantic debt. Greece can have an external and internal surplus very quickly.

The EU has a consensus driven voting system by which a single member state can block policy for all of the EU. Having one member state on Russia’s side would mean a great deal to Putin. The unanimity that is so needed in making EU policy would be broken by Greece. A Greece that votes as instructed by Putin would be an enormous problem for the EU and USA. And remember, there is no mechanism to expel an EU member. All of Greece could become Putin’s Trojan horse.

Likely? No, especially now that oil prices have collapsed.  Possible? Yes.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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