EC chief Von der Leyen is to meet Cyprus bigwigs as she juggles EU concerns with Russia's nuclear-war threat. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


EC President to visit Cyprus amid humanitarian Gaza fears – and Russian sabre-rattling


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Cyprus this week as the bloc explores a possible humanitarian corridor through the Mediterranean island to support the population in Gaza, her spokesperson said.

“Our efforts are focused on making sure that we can provide aid to Palestinians,” the spokesperson said on March 6, adding: “We all hope that this opening [of the corridor] will take place very soon.”

In Nicosia, a Government spokesperson said: “On Friday she will visit, along with the [Cypriot] President, the infrastructure related to some phases of the plan.”

Cyprus, located some 370km Northwest of Gaza, is the closest European Union Member State to the region. It has campaigned for months for the creation of a sustained, one-way sea route carrying aid directly to the enclave.

The announcement of Von der Leyen’s visit came a day after Russian State news agency TASS reported the Kremlin saying the West was playing with fire by discussing the idea of sending troops to Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month he could not rule out such a possibility, although other European NATO members and the US said there were no such plans.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a few days ago that the West should understand it risked provoking a “nuclear war” if it sent troops to Ukraine.

While there is no official major interest from the Kremlin over the Gaza conflict, many feel any move  internationally regarding European Union involvement in conflicts outside the bloc could provoke retaliations.