Alexander Golts writes: French President Francois Hollande has essentially vetoed the transfer of the first Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia. The Elysee Palace announced that Moscow’s actions in Ukraine do not create the necessary conditions for the transfer of the warship. In response, Russian officials threatened to appeal to international arbitration and sue France for 3 billion euros — against the purchase price of 1.2 billion euros for two Mistral carriers — and several State Duma deputies have called for a ban on imports of French wine.
The situation has obviously reached an impasse. The Kremlin shows no intention of budging on its Ukraine policy and the French authorities worried that they might ultimately see their Mistral ship landing Russian troops on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. The Mistral deal seems to have run aground for the foreseeable future.
In an attempt to put a good face on a bad situation, the Defense Ministry hurried to declare that the warships were not all that necessary anyway. If that is true, why did Russia agree three years ago to put up so much money for them? I think the Mistral deal symbolized the attempt to establish military cooperation between Russia and the West, and France’s refusal to transfer an already completed ship indicates the failure of that attempt. [Continue reading…]