Wednesday, 5 January 2011

French arms deal opens "floodgate of arms sales to Russia"

The Jamestown Foundation´s Russia expert Vladimir Socor is worried about the growing arms exports from France and other NATO countries to Russia:

On Christmas Eve (December 24, 2010) the Kremlin and Elysee Palace jointly announced a definitive agreement for Russian procurement of two French Mistral-class power projection warships, with two more planned for a follow-up stage. Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy exchanged congratulations over this deal and in the Christmas season by telephone. Separately, the Elysee Palace described the deal’s consummation as a victory for France and its naval industry, with 1,000 French jobs guaranteed for the first two ships in the four years ahead (Interfax, Agence France Presse, December 24, 25, 2010). Sarkozy’s long-time friend and leading French pundit, Andre Gluecksmann, however, termed the Christmas-eve announcement as intended to distract public attention from a “dirty” affair (The New York Times, December 29, 2010).
In parallel, a number of bilateral arms deals between NATO countries and Russia are now being consummated, without reference to their impact on the Alliance’s defense planning, or the security interests of NATO member and partner countries that border on Russia. The French Mistral deal seems to have opened a floodgate of arms sales to Russia by West European arms industries (see Part Two). These deals were in the offing before NATO’s Lisbon summit on November 20-21, but Russian confirmations were held in abeyance until the summit was over. In this regard, the Lisbon summit may indeed have marked a “historic” watershed, though not in the sense conveyed in the immediate post-summit euphoria.

Mistral-class warships are designed for offensive power-projection through amphibious landings and air assault, using the combat helicopters and armored vehicles aboard in support of ground-force operations. Under Russia’s military doctrine, as well as command arrangements in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, naval forces are regarded as auxiliary to ground forces in the event of offensive operations on land. Such was also the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s role in the August 2008 invasion of Georgia, following which the Kremlin decided
to procure Mistral-class warships for exponentially enhanced ship-to-shore attack capabilities.

Read the whole article here.

The arms sales to Russia, the "oligarchy run by the security services" (defense secretary Robert Gates), show that most Western political leaders happily forget their values and principles if they think that saving a few jobs can secure their popularity ....

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