French Warships to Russia Scrutinized

Written by | Thursday, May 15th, 2014

French plan to deliver two warships to Russia despite its actions in Ukraine have attracted strong criticism by the United States, with US State Department’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki telling the journalists that “we have expressed our concerns to the French government over the sale. We’ll continue to do so”. France has strictly rejected the idea of an arms embargo imposed against Russia and that even in case it invades eastern Ukraine or disrupts its 25 May presidential elections. France sold the Mistral ships to Russia for €1.2 billion shortly after its invasion of Georgia in 2008. A Russian admiral later made headlines when he reportedly said that Russia could have won the war in “40 minutes instead of 26 hours” if it had acquired them earlier. To that end, the State Department official also added that “Obviously, as you know, there are sanctions that have been put in place. I’d have to specifically check here to see if there’s a legal question or if this is just a question of whether we find this to be unhelpful.”
According to a French official, the first of the vessels will be delivered to Russia later this year because “the contract has been paid and there would be financial penalties for not delivering it.” Psaki also noted that, apart from France, Washington is “working in lockstep with the EU to put in place consequences for the illegal and illegitimate actions of Russia”. On the same day, EU ministers expanded the ‘Russia blacklist’ from 48 to 61 people and two Crimean companies – Russian President’s chief of staff and Russian military chief are among the new high-profile names added to the list. This move has been denounced by the Russian officials, one of whom has suggested that “EU colleagues are demonstrating a one-sided and one-dimensional policy, not worthy of the European Union.”

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