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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid