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A United Front?
On Russian Warships Deal, No Solidarity from France

What fraternité? France continues to ignore the pleas of her allies by moving ahead with plans to sell two major warships to the Kremlin. The deal highlights the biggest problem for U.S. efforts to contain Russia’s Ukrainian excursions: weak European solidarity.

France’s NATO allies—especially the U.S. and an increasingly alarmed Poland—worry that these Mistral class warships will shift the already fragile balance of power in an alarming direction, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

The Mistral, which looms over the town, is a potent weapon. The length of more than two football fields, the ship is designed to edge up to a shoreline and deploy more than a dozen tanks and attack helicopters as well as hundreds of troops. This type of ship is also an integral part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s defenses, using sensitive communications technology to coordinate operations with other NATO ships. The potential transfer of that technology to Russia has long worried policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic.

France has defended its decision to honor its $1.6 billion contract, which was agreed on after the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia, by appealing to economic concerns: the contracts provide more than a thousand jobs for the struggling French shipbuilding industry. In deference to this reasoning, some have called for the U.S. or NATO to prevent the deal by simply buying the warships out from under Russia.

Whether or not the deal ends up falling through, it is clear that a unified Western response to Vladimir Putin’s foreign adventures remains elusive—a reality no doubt most apparent to Putin himself.

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  • johngbarker

    Gee, I thought Putin had been outwitted and marginalized.

    • Corlyss

      Maybe you’re taking the wrong information from your subscription to the Daily Worker . . . 😉

  • Pete

    Sure, that’s right. Have Uncle Sap buy some marginal French ‘warships’ that the U.S. Navy does not need.

    It’s win-win for everyone ….. except the U.S. taxpayer.

    And then we can all go back to pretending that France is an ally and all the foreign affair elites in the U.S. can relax. .

    • Jrggrop

      To be fair, the Mistrals are first rate ships.

      • Pete

        No ship is a stand along entity. Each — from the largest to the smallest — is part of an overall weapon system which is often times called the fleet.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Though given some of the rather severe ‘deficiencies’ uncovered when the ships are actually used (note: these are production, NOT design problems), I am not all that uncomfortable with the French selling them to the Russians, and letting them discover what surprises lie in store for them….

  • Corlyss

    The inability of the Europeans to decide on a common EU foreign policy is just one of the gazillion reasons why the European project is doomed to fail. Go UKIP!

  • Andrew Allison

    This illustrates the fundamental flaw in the EU vision, namely that nations will always put their interests against those of treaty partners, which, let it not be forgotten, we did to Ukraine.

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