Back when we were still all reset-y with Russia, France agreed to take $1.7 billion to produce two Mistral-class helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy. The Russians are due to take possession of the first one later this year. Bad idea:
In light of Russia’s latest aggression, defense and foreign-policy experts, gathered in Paris for a Gatestone Institute conference, agree that it would be impossible to take the West seriously if it turned over a weapon uniquely suited for close-in military commando operations such as the ones that Russia used to occupy Crimea. Stopping delivery of the carrier isn’t a private-property issue, either, given that the French government owns 75 percent of DCNS, the French shipbuilder.
French officials have been reluctant to discuss the carrier contract, telling me that they have no comment. When asked last Friday at a news conference about the carrier contract, President Hollande replied, “As far as other sanctions, notably military cooperation, that is the third level of sanctions.” But as recently as a March 7 news conference (more than a week after Russia’s invasion of Crimea), Hollande appeared unwilling to touch the issue.
France has always been, shall we say, somewhat mercantilist about arms sales. The present crisis seems unlikely to change that, which is just one more of a million cracks in the Western alliance.
So it seems Vladimir Putin will be getting a pair of very nice ships to dock in his very nice seaport in his very nice and newly-acquired Black Sea peninsula.