Poland, one of the most outspoken proponents of EU (and NATO) resistance to Russian aggression, threatened to take France out of the running to sell a nearly six billion dollar missile defense system because of a still-pending deal to sell two amphibious assault helicopter warships to Putin. Defense News reports:
“I can’t hide the fact that the Mistral (warship contract) is not helping us make positive decisions” about French missile shield suppliers, Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said in an interview published in the Rzeczpospolita daily. […]“We are critical of this transaction. Nobody has ever hidden this fact from our French partners,” Siemoniak said.“I don’t want to play the role of someone setting conditions for France. I am confident that France will make a wise and responsible decision, knowing that it is a NATO member and knowing the opinions of other allies.”
(As an aside, we encourage you to read Andrew Michta’s recent interview with Defense Minister Siemoniak here.)
The Mistrals would expand Putin’s capacity to launch larger-scale invasions in places like Georgia or the Baltics. When Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began, France’s NATO allies sharply criticized its deal to sell the two Mistral-class warships to Russia, but France defended the deal as being in its economic interest (the deal is worth just under two billion dollars). Now Poland is holding France’s feet to the fire to the tune of almost three times what the Mistral deal is worth. With the decision on the Mistrals due later this month, we will see if money works where solidarity obviously doesn’t.