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 Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid