Russia is to “begin providing consular services” in the north “in the very near future”, according to Russian news agency Tass.

According to the reports, an official from the Russian embassy in Cyprus said the country is set to open an office in northern Nicosia, with consular services to be offered “on a regular basis”.

The north’s ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu was swift to point out that the move does not amount to recognition of the north nor the opening of a formal consulate, however.

“The Russians have wanted to open an office in the TRNC for a long time. There are attempts to open an office, but opening a consulate is something else, they are doing no such thing. There are requests to open an office, just like the ones the USA and the UK have. A consulate or recognition is something completely different”, he said.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar later made a statement to the same effect, adding “it is not inconvenient for us to have Russia here”.

Commenting later in the day, the Cyprus Foreign Ministry said that they were examining the reports of the Russian consulate in the north.

The foreign minsitry added that authorities both in Nicosia and in Moscow are looking into the matter.

This is not the first time reports of Russia potentially offering consular services in the north have surfaced.

In April 2022, the Russian government denied reports it was due to open a consulate in the north, saying it had “no intention of recognising any other authorities [in Cyprus] other than those of the Republic of Cyprus”.

In the same statement, however, they did say they were “exploring the possibilities” of providing assistance to Russian nationals living in the north.

It is estimated that around 50,000 Russian nationals currently reside in the north.

The Cyprus Mail contacted the Russian embassy for comment.