By Mehreen Khan, & Andrew Trotman 18 April 2015
Kremlin says it has not reached an agreement to provide a €5bn sweetener to Athens for a planned gas pipeline that runs through the country
A deal between Russia and Greece is expected to be signed on Tuesday
Russia has denied providing up to €5bn to Greece for a planned gas pipeline, in a move that would significantly ease Athens' cash crisis.
According to reports in Der Spiegel, Moscow was ready to provide advanced payment to Greece in assent for its "Turkish Stream" project.
The magazine quoted a senior Syriza minister saying the deal would "turn the tide" for the debt-stricken country, and could be signed as early as Tuesday.
However, the Kremlin later denied it had reached an agreement for any financial aid in advance of future profits from the pipe's transit fees.
Russia's RIA news agency said there was no sweetener on the table, citing government spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month.
During his visit to the Kremlin, Mr Tsipras insisted Greece was not a “debt colony”, but a “sovereign nation with the indelible right to carry out its own foreign policy”.
Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said he had no objection to any deal with Moscow, but that ultimately it would not "fix Greece's reform problems."
Beijing has also sought to invest in Greece's port infrastructure and bought up €100m worth of short-term government bonds last week.
Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek television no deal would be reached with "the neo-liberal, neo-colonial powers which rule EU & IMF unless Greece really threatens their deep economic and geo-strategic interests."
Mr Lafazanis, who heads up the Left Platform of Syriza, recently hailed a new dawn in Greco-Russia relations and has invited the likes of state-sponsored Gazprom to drill for oil off the Greek coast.
The Left-wing Syriza government in Athens is running out of money to meet the next €1.7bn bill for salaries and pensions later this month.
With the coffers running dry and hopes of an agreement by the end of the month fading, the government faces a further near €1bn IMF bill in early May.
Mr Putin said last month that he stood ready to assist Athens by pumping investment into the country's energy and transport sectors.
“Just because Greece is debt-ridden, this does not mean it is bound hand and foot, and has no independent foreign policy,” said Mr Putin.