* Leaders say no Greek request for Russian aid
* Talks focus on energy projects, pipeline extension
* Warmer Russian-Greek ties cause concern in EU
(Updates after Putin-Tsipras news conference)
By Renee Maltezou and Denis Pinchuk
MOSCOW, April 8 Greek Prime Minister Alexis
Tsipras won pledges of closer cooperation from Russia at talks
in the Kremlin on Wednesday but President Vladimir Putin said
Athens had not asked for money to ease its debt crisis.
The visit, as Athens seeks funds to make debt repayments,
caused concern in some European Union states that Greece could
break ranks over economic sanctions on Russia to secure aid or
use the trip to pressure its EU allies to release financing.
But both leaders said Greece had not made any request for
financial aid and Putin appeared to rule out easing a ban on
Greek agricultural imports, imposed as part of Russia's response
to the EU's economic sanctions.
"The Greek side has not addressed us with any requests for
aid," Putin told a news conference, seated beside the tieless
Tsipras at a white desk with the Greek, EU and Russian flags
behind them in a Kremlin reception hall.
"We discussed cooperation in various sectors of the economy,
including the possibility of developing major energy projects,"
the Russian leader added, giving few details and at times
looking distracted and tired.
Russia is not in a good position to offer aid as it faces
its own economic crisis, aggravated by the sanctions, a drop in
global oil prices and the rouble's decline against the U.S.
Although Russian ministers had said Moscow might consider
lifting the food import ban on Athens in the tit-for-tat battle
over sanctions, Putin said: "The counter-measures have of course
hurt Greece, but this isn't our fault ... We simply couldn't
have acted otherwise: we can't make an exception for this or
that country of the euro zone as a whole."
The two leaders said, however, that they had discussed
future areas of economic cooperation. In particular, these
included the idea of extending Turkish Stream, a gas pipeline
that will be built under the Black Sea to Turkey, to Greece.
"Greece is interested in exploring investment initiatives
for the construction of a Greek pipeline to transfer natural gas
from the Greek-Turkish borders to the mainland," Tsipras said.
Putin also said that the energy projects under discussion
might involve the provision of Russian loans, and that Russian
firms would be interested in participating in any Greek
In a symbol of their political solidarity, the two leaders
also issued a joint statement about next month's 70th
anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe, criticising
"attempts to falsify history".
The issue is politically sensitive in both countries in the
context of the Ukraine conflict and the Greek debt stand-off.
Many Western leaders will skip Russia's Victory Day
celebrations on May 9 because of Moscow's role in the Ukraine
Greece, meanwhile, has complicated talks over its debts by
demanding hundreds of billions of euros in war reparations from
Germany, its largest creditor.
Some EU states fear that deals between Russia and Greece
might encourage Athens to break the party line on sanctions, and
believe Greece could be using its efforts to warm up ties with
Moscow as leverage in attempts to get its EU and International
Monetary Fund partners to release funds.
In Berlin, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said Germany had
no reason to think Athens has softened its stance towards
sanctions, adding that "so far Greece has supported all the
decisions linked to sanctions and we hope that will continue to
be the case".
(Writing by Jason Bush and Timothy Heritage; editing by Giles