Paris S’excuse: French Officials Rationalize Naval Rearmament of Russia
Arvamus 27 Jan 2010  EWR
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Vladimir Socor, Eurasia Daily Monitor
(Volume: 7 Issue: 17, January 26)

The approval process for boosting Russian naval power is moving forward in the French government. Paris and Moscow are negotiating the sale of one French-built Mistral-class warship to Russia, to be followed by construction of three or four such ships in Russia under French license (Interfax, January 15; RIA Novosti, January 22).

These intentions amount to a program of naval rearmament for Russia, an openly revisionist power in Europe and on its periphery. Mistral-class ships constitute by definition a power-projection capability, carrying tanks and helicopters for offensive landing operations, with an intimidating potential in Russian hands vis-à-vis its maritime neighbors. NATO member and partner countries in the Baltic and Black Seas are concerned about the possible appearance of Mistral-class ships in the respective Russian fleets, if the French sale goes ahead.

France’s Inter-ministerial Commission for the Study of War Material Exports (French acronym CIEEMG), has now cleared the deal with Russia in a report to the French government. At the next higher level, the General Secretariat for National Defense and Security (SGDSN) is preparing its report on this issue for President Nicolas Sarkozy (Le Monde, January 26).

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