By Jason Stverak
France – friend or foe?
That is an appropriate question for NATO and anyone in America worried about Russian aggression in eastern Europe. That’s because France, rather unapologetically, has teamed with the Russians to enhance Vladimir Putin’s military capabilities.
A FRIEND?: French President Francois Hollande declared in early September that because Russian “actions” in eastern Ukraine threatened European security, the weapons sales would be halted.
After resisting pressure from his NATO allies to stop the sale of Mistral class amphibious assault warships to Russia, French President Francois Hollande declared in early September that because Russian “actions” in eastern Ukraine threatened European security, the Mistral sales would be halted.
But France is facing other pressures. A cancellation would result in not only the loss of some $1.8 billion in revenue, but it would also trigger severe contract cancellation penalties for the two Mistrals already set for delivery.
However, close inspection of Hollande’s statement leaves France sufficient latitude to deliver the Mistrals at a later date, and that is what some observers think will happen.
Russia’s purchase of the two Mistrals represents a dynamic change in Russia’s strategic and operational thinking. The Mistral is a landing helicopter dock platform and provides Russia with much-needed naval assault as well as communications and control capability.
Strategically, the Mistral would promote Russia’s aggressive foreign policy, and France had absolutely no hesitation in assisting the Russians for a price.