The government in Athens has refused a demand by the United States to close its airspace to Russian aircraft ferrying what it describes as humanitarian aid to Syria.

“On Saturday, U.S. Embassy [in Athens] appealed to the Greek government with a request to prohibit the flights of Russian aircraft in the FIR Athens. The Greek government refused to do so, in order not to worsen relations with Russia,” an anonymous Greek diplomat told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Russia will use the air space throughout the month of September.

Russian aid for Syria

On Friday Vladimir Putin admitted during an economic forum in Vladivostok his country is providing the Syrian military with weapons and training.

The Obama administration indicated last week it is monitoring reports that Russia is conducting military operations in Syria. The White House said any attempt by Russia to support the Syrian government would be “destabilizing and counter-productive.”

Closer Greek-Russian Ties

In June Russia and Greece signed a deal to build a $2.27 pipeline through Greece. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made two trips to Moscow to consult with the Russians.

The gas pipeline will allow Russia to avoid transit to markets in Europe through Ukraine where a US State Department supported coup installed a government hostile to Russia.