News / Europe

France Criticized for Warships Contract with Moscow

The Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok is seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, western France, April 24, 2014.
The Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok is seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, western France, April 24, 2014.
Lisa Bryant

France's contract to sell a pair of Mistral aircraft carriers to Moscow has come under fire in recent months, as relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated over Ukraine.  Last month, President Barack Obama said it would be preferable if France pushed the "pause button" on the deal.
 
"I have expressed some concerns, and I do not think I am alone in this, about continuing significant ... defense deals with Russia at a time when they have violated basic international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their neighbors.  So President Hollande understands my position," he said.
 

French President Francois Hollande gestures as he delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 23, 2014.French President Francois Hollande gestures as he delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 23, 2014.
x
French President Francois Hollande gestures as he delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 23, 2014.
French President Francois Hollande gestures as he delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 23, 2014.

But this week, French President Francois Hollande said the first Mistral would be delivered to Moscow in October, as planned.  He added there were no sanctions in place to force France to cancel the deal.
 
But with the downing of the Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine, the European Union has agreed to tighten sanctions against Moscow.  And as the 28-member bloc considers new sanctions, the French Mistral sale is coming under fire.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said it would be "unthinkable" for Britain to go ahead with a similar contract.  Lithuania's president suggested France was compromising its values.  Speaking before an EU meeting Tuesday in Brussels, Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt did not mention France by name, but the message was clear.
 
"I think we should have had an arms embargo quite some time ago," he said. "I do not think that is necessarily the answer.  But of course to deliver arms to Russia in this situation is somewhat difficult to defend, to put it mildly."

Domestic pressure

Defense News Paris correspondent Pierre Tran says the French economy is driving Hollande's decision to go ahead with the $1.6-billion Mistral contract.
 
"France has severe budget pressure.  Domestic budget pressure.  So to keep a strong defense industry, France needs to sell weapons abroad, [to] the world market," he said.
 
Tran says that if France breaks the contract, it might be considered an unreliable supplier, which will hurt its chances for future deals.
 
"On the one hand, there is a contractual obligation to Russia, which is important in terms of keeping a place in the arms market, the world arms market," he said.  "There is also, of course, a political decision on how to maintain relations with friends, allies and partners, allies like Poland, like Britain, like the U.S."
 
France is not the only country that has deals with Russia. Germany imports energy from Moscow, and Britain's The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday a study by British lawmakers found 200 licenses to sell weapons to Russia remain in place, despite Cameron's claim of an absolute arms embargo against Moscow.
 
In France, Socialist Party Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadelis told French TV Cameron was in no position to criticize the Mistral deal, given the number of Russian oligarchs seeking financial refuge in London.  What is clear is the Mistral deal underscores the difficulties Europe faces in tightening sanctions on Russia. 

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
July 24, 2014 12:20 AM
I am fed up with the way France is told to do something or not to do the others. The USA and the UK try to prevent France from deliver the ships to Russia without caring about France's interests. I do not know when the USA and the UK has the right to teach France, Germany, Italy and others how to behave when the USA and the UK have done so many dirty things such as spying their own allies's leaders.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid