U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates tried in vain to stop the French sale of attack carriers to Russia already in the beginning of 2010.
Shame on president Nicolas Sarkozy and the French government! In order to save a few hundred jobs in the country´s crisis-ridden shipbuilding industry, the French have agreed the sale of two of its most modern Mistral attack helicopter carriers, equipped with advanced western military technology to Putin´s Russia, described by US defense secretary Robert Gates as "an oligarchy run by the secret services":
France has transferred to Russia all the technology it asked for under a $1.7-billion deal for two French-built Mistral class amphibious assault ships for the Russian Navy, a Russian arms exporter said on Monday.
Under the deal signed on Friday, the first warship will be delivered in 2014 and the second in 2015.
"The French side has transferred all technologies, including the SENIT 9 [command and control] system, as well as two other systems," said Anatoly Isaikin, head of the Rosoboronexport state-controlled arms exporter.
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No wonder that the Chairwoman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen strongly denounced the deal under which France wíll transfer sensitive military technology to Russia for the first time since World War II:
"It is deeply troubling that France, a NATO ally, has decided to ignore the clear danger of selling advanced warships to Russia even as Moscow is taking an increasingly hostile approach toward the U.S., its neighbors, and Europe itself," she said in a statement.
"Many of our allies in the region, such as Georgia and the Baltic states, have experienced cyber attacks, severe economic pressure, and even invasion by Russia," she added.
Russia signed the long-awaited contract worth over a billion euros ($1.4 billion) to buy two French warships on June 17 despite alarm from its ex-Soviet neighbors and the United States.
Jamestown Foundation analyst Vladimir Socor gave some facts about the Mistral class assault carriers already when the deal was in its early stages:
The Mistral-class helicopter carrier, several of which France offers to sell and license to Russia, is the most modern French warship class. At 24,000 tons it is second only to the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in size. The first Mistral-class warship entered service in 2006. The French Navy currently has two Mistral-class ships in operation and is building a third.
This warship is by definition a power-projection capability. The proposed sale, even without the most sophisticated technology, would endow Russia with a modern naval and amphibious warfare capability that Russia currently lacks. In Russian hands, the Mistral can be deployed for intimidating effect on Russia’s maritime neighbors in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea, or elsewhere.The Mistral carries 16 attack and landing helicopters (while allowing the operation of up to 30 on both decks), 900 troops, four conventional landing craft (also allowing the operation of two hovercraft), and 40 Leclerc tanks, or alternatively 13 tanks and 40 other vehicles (http://www.netmarine.net/bat/tcd/mistral/histoire01.htm). These are the figures for short-term operations, which are primarily relevant to Russia for possible actions in theaters nearby (EDM, September 18, November 2).
By promoting the Mistral sale, France turns a blind eye to: Russia’s August 2008 invasion of Georgia, including the Russian naval operation and landing; the [President Dmitry] “Medvedev doctrine” on protecting arbitrarily defined “compatriots” beyond Russia’s borders, including their military “protection;” Medvedev’s decree (approved by the Duma) authorizing the president to order immediate military operations beyond Russia’s borders, in a wide variety of circumstances; Russia’s September 2009 massive, offensively-oriented military exercises near the Baltic States and Poland; and Russia’s October 2009 revisions to the draft military doctrine, now authorizing preventive military operations against neighboring and other countries.
With "allies" like France under Sarkozy, no wonder that U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates and many other American leading politicians and defense experts have begun to doubt the relevance of NATO.