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Ukraine ‘Very Disappointed’ France Proceeding With Russian Mistral Deal

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An artist's rendering of the future Russian Navy amphibious warship Vladivostok. DCNS Photo

An artist’s rendering of the future Russian Navy amphibious warship Vladivostok. DCNS Photo

Ukrainian president has joined the U.S. in opposing France sale of two amphibious warships to the Russian Navy in remarks to European legislators on Thursday.

Petro Poroshenko told a group of European parliament deputies he was “very disappointed” the $1.53 billion two-ship deal was still on following the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 by what’s believed to be Ukrainian separatists using Russian supplied anti-aircraft weapons, reported by Agence France-Presse.

“It’s not a question of money, industry or jobs. It’s a question of values,” Poroshenko said.

Poroshenko’s comments follow Monday’s confirmation from French president Francois Hollande that at least the first ship would deliver to Russia and delivery of the second would, “depend on Russia’s attitude.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. voiced its opposition to the sale any of the amphibious ships.
“We don’t think anyone should be providing arms to Russia,” deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a news conference.
“We obviously don’t think the Mistral should go ahead.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also voiced opposition to the plan.

“We’ve seen ample evidence that the Russians are flouting international norms, supporting efforts to violate the territorial integrity of independent sovereign nations,” he said on Tuesday.
“It seems like a suboptimal time, if you will, to be transferring advanced military systems to them.”

Following the shoot down of Flight 17, more in Europe are calling for stepped up Russian sanctions, including a British proposal for a total arms embargo.

However, the timing for France is awkward.

Late last month, 400 Russian sailors arrived in France for training on the amphibious warship Vladivostok — expected to deliver later this year.

The second ship — Sevastopol — is slated to join the Russian fleet in 2015.

The 21,000-ton ships can field 20 helicopters and has a well deck to deploy landing craft. The ship can carry up to 450 troops for extended journeys and 900 for short trips.

Russia plans to homeport the ships at its naval base in Vladivostok.

  • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

    The problem is, that France is in a tough Economic situation and that ship sale is saving their economy and JOBS.

    • Ctrot

      To offset the economic impact to French ship building the US should agree, should France kill the Mistral deal, to purchase for the US Navy $2 billion worth of La Fayette class frigates, paid for by the cancellation of $2 billion worth of LCS.

      • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

        The question is, is the La Fayette class frigates still in production even though the last one was built in 2002. Which I don’t think they make them anymore.

        Also, I don’t think France cares what the US says, because France has to look at the Economic impact of this deal and what it will cost them if they cancel the deal and how many jobs will be sacrificed for someone political maneuvering.

        The other, is what use dose the US Navy have for a Mistral class LHD, when the US Navy has it’s own LHA, LHD and LPD in their fleet

        I think that the US navy should Cancel the LCS and go buy the FREMM Frigate

        • Secundius

          @ Nicky.

          I can’t see the United States purchasing French Built Ship’s for US. Navy usage. But, I can see them purchasing them too keep the Russian’s form getting them. And I’f they a purchased, it would be a fitting gift too bolster the Ukrainian Navy’s rebuilding program.

          • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

            Well, I can’t see Ukraine or the Philippines getting the Mistral class LHD. The problem is that the US Navy has no use for an LHD because they have their own LHD, LPD and LHA. Now for the UK, it could fit their needs for a second LHD. So either way, France has to sell the Mistral to Russia to get the money and jobs.

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            As for the MISTRAL class. Ukraine, maybe? The Philippines, probably not. If the MISTRAL class isn’t used in the Amphibious Assault role, you can still use in a Light Carrier role. Or even in a Hospital Ship role. But, both nations could probably find uses for the Frigates.

          • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

            The problem here is that, the US Navy has no need or use for a Mistral class LHD. I don’t see Ukraine or the Philippines ever getting a Mistral class LHD. The Mistral will wind up being sold to the Russians cause the French are looking out for their own people and Economy.

          • Ctrot

            Who said anything about the US buying the Mistrals?

    • Ruckweiler

      Nicky:
      Remember, France’s largest trading partner prior to WWII was…….Germany. The French learn nothing from their history, don’t they?

      • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

        History has a way of repeating itself and look at the US and what happened to Vietnam and it repeated again in IRAQ

        • Ruckweiler

          Nicky:
          Didn’t realize in Vietnam and Iraq that the US was conquered and had to defend its soil. Iraq was allowed to wander by the present administration. History’s analogies don’t always match well, do they?

          • misantropo_za

            The US courted Iraq and provided them with assistance in the 80’s during the Iran/Iraq War (even helping with chemical weapons). Then after the first Persian Gulf War, the administration at the time left Saddam in power. Then the US encouraged the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam then failed to support the Kurds and Shias who were subsequently slaughtered by the Republican Guard.

  • 2IDSGT

    Not impressed with French excuses. Impound the ships and keep Russia’s money, then sell them to someone else and freeze that money for possible repayment after Putin goes away. What’s he gonna do, invade France?

  • OLDNAVYVET

    Does anyone remember “VICHY?”

  • vincedc

    Man, we just have to have our hands in everything. It is none of our business, and it isn’t like there is anything we can do but whine about it. I’m sure that the French nor the Russians could care less that Ukraine and the U.S. are disappointed. It is not like these ships are a threat to the Ukraine. They share a land border with Russia.

  • Secundius

    For the French, there only one phrase you need to remember. “Money Talks, Merit Walks”.

  • Rick Lewis

    Here is a possibility that tweaks the Russians, but doesn’t kill French jobs:

    NATO buys the ships, to be used in defense of the alliance. NATO has a rapid reaction force, but it has mostly been a British effort so far. This would be a way for the rest of the alliance to pitch in, and give the force a way to get to the fight when there isn’t an airport nearby. Sure, this will require some money from NATO members, but they’ll actually get something for their money. The French can also keep any down payments made by Russia until the situation is resolved (assuming it is), allowing time to set up NATO contributions. The French contribution can be reducing the price to what they would have charged the French Navy for the ships. Two other countries can contribute by hosting the ships.

    We then post the first one on the Black Sea in Romania or Bulgaria, with a flotilla composed of subs and destroyers provided by other NATO allies. Next year we post the other one on the Baltic Sea in Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, former Soviet republics that Russia would also love to have back, with similar supporting ships.

    This will have turned an apparent Russian victory into what they fear the most, a resurgent NATO with a wary eye facing east.

    • KazuakiShimazaki

      By “resolve”, I suppose what you really meant to say is for the Russians to put up the white flag on this issue.

      • Rick Lewis

        The white flag? No. They don’t need to heal the wounds they’ve created, but they need to stop creating more wounds. Their excuse for their offenses in the first place was nonsense – fear for the safety of ethnic Russians. We’re talking Ukrainians of Russian ancestry, not Russians. There are ethnic Russians in almost every country of the world, so does Russia have the right to grab any territory if the local ethnic Russians are afraid? Does the United Kingdom have the right to attack India if local people of English ancestry are having trouble? Or any other country where there are people of British ancestry? The notion is absurd.

        I think France and the other European powers would probably consider the matter resolved if Russia just stopped committing acts of war against Ukraine. They’d probably even acquiesce to Russia keeping the Crimea.

        The main acts of war I’m aware of are:

        – Hundreds to thousands of the “insurrectionists” that took over Crimea and other Ukrainian military targets were Russian special forces.

        – Several Russian units have been firing artillery at Ukrainian targets (and bragging about it online).
        – They provided heavy weapons such as the anti-aircraft missile that brought down the Malaysian 777.

        The Russians could claim they’ve accomplished their mission by protecting local Russians, offer them citizenship in Russia, and take them home. Take all their military equipment and forces home. Declare victory and leave the rest of Ukraine intact. Putin gets to look like a tough guy, gets to keep Crimea, and Russia gets to gradually re-enter the international community. That’s pretty much the only way this situation gets resolved without a protracted civil war or an even more destructive widening of the war.

        • KazuakiShimazaki

          Here is what I think. This whole mess could have been avoided if, when President Yanukyovich was ousted from power by extra-constitutional means at the end of a series of riots that actually saw armored vehicles burning, the West actually abides by its usual attitudes (resolve matters by peace, rule-of-law) and condemns the insurrectionist action. Or, when the Crimea voted to join Russia, the West actually abides by its usual attitude towards “self-determination” (on another day, they usually quietly admit to themselves there are a lot of ethnic Russians there that would probably have voted to join Russia, but for some reason such sentiments are forgotten on that day). Instead, having just decided the Ukrainian constitution was trash (by supporting the anti-Yanukyovich forces), they now hide behind it and say the plebiscite was unconstitutional. Please.

          But no, it is obvious to that their priority is anything anti-Russian. Legality does not matter. Nor whether they can actually afford to be generous towards the Ukraine. Or whether geopolitics actually says that Ukraine has to maintain relations with Russia and that places limits on how close it can get to the West. No … none of these matter – as long as we get another anti-Russian nation on the Russian border, we are happy. Who is not letting go of Cold War attitudes is clear.

          Eventually it snowballs and we now have a full blown rebellion on our hands. And the new Ukrainian government, which is really of quite marginal legitimacy at best, is being emboldened by the West’s half-hearted support. The quickest way to have peace is to have the West cut off its support. Seeing they are isolated, Poroshenko would deal.

          >Their excuse for their offenses in the first place was nonsense – fear for the safety of ethnic Russians.

          Well, that’s why ultimately, their troops are not crossing the border. It is always an insurrectionist movement. People can argue until the dogs come home about how many Russian infiltrators are there, but on the books, it is an insurrectionist movement.

          >Several Russian units have been firing artillery at Ukrainian targets (and bragging about it online).

          Quite frankly, I don’t really buy this one. I see some shoddy commercial imagery that happens to show some howitzers deployed (supposedly somewhere in Russia), some craters in uber-low resolution (supposedly these are in Ukraine) and then they are linked and we are expected to buy it. It is not hard to impersonate a Russian or two and make such brags (especially since Western media is not going to dig very hard) on social media.

          As for why I don’t buy it? Well, because it’d be counter to their strategy so far.

          >They provided heavy weapons such as the anti-aircraft missile that brought down the Malaysian 777.

          Frankly, I just can’t be very touched by that airliner, saddened as I am by the deaths. No, I’m not going to say it was a Su-25 (roll) or even a Ukrainian regular army missile (they simply have no need to deploy). Short of a pretty elaborate false flag operation, it is the rebels. But I cannot blame them. Malaysian Airlines chose to fly the plane there. The Ukrainian armed forces chose to use aircraft against what are nominally their own people.

          I remember the outrage about that whole Maidan shooting. I won’t get into the morass of *exactly* what happened there but gee… Yanukyovich shoots his people that are getting rather rowdy … bad. Poroshenko uses aircraft against his people … good. How *dare* his people get missiles to defend themselves…

          And this is why I think France has the proper, proportionate view of this whole MH17 thing – a tragedy of conflict, not some dastardly deed. If France was willing to sell the Mistral before, MH17 just isn’t a reason to stop.

          >The Russians could claim they’ve accomplished their mission by protecting local Russians, offer them citizenship in Russia, and take them home.

          Do you know what people that are forced from their homes to another country are called? Refugees.

          Here’s my solution to the problem, not that the West would agree. The West lives up to its usual talk about self-determination and recognizes the results of the Crimean vote, and then lambasts the Ukrainian government for what it is … unconstitutionally formed. Thus, they drop recognition of it for a bit (which of course means no EU participation). Poroshenko will probably immediately sue for peace and agree to Russian demands for greater federalism. Which is what is needed anyway for a nation so diverse in its ethnicity and inclinations. The West can always stand by or send messages behind the scenes so the Russians don’t get too greedy.

          • zag1

            He left because he didn’t want to be attacking and killing civilians, the narzis in power now are more than happy to kill anyone, and have usa backing for that.

            Even the #ato don’t even call the people they are fighting rebels or russian separates. They call them civilians.

          • Secundius

            @ zag1.

            FSB, exKGB agents, leading Russian FSB exKGB troops lead forces from Russia into Ukraine posing as Pro-Russian Rebels shot down a Malaysian Airliner, using Russian made and supplied equipment. And Putin says, because it happen in Ukrainian Territory, the Rebels must be Ukrainians. That’s CIRCULAR LOGIC.

  • Secundius

    The only reason the Russian are buying from outside sources, is because the shipbuilding infrastructure is in the crapper. With possible exception being their submarine building programs. Can anyone remember the last time they actually built a ship from the keel up, for their own Naval Forces. I can’t, at least not since the 1990’s.

  • zaza

    Putin=procto-nuke

  • taxman

    why not use the British example with dealing with the captured French Navy in WW2. They gave the French Navy several warnings to clear out before they sank the fleet. I say repeat this and then let the courts take over in the law suits which will follow.