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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs