Less than one day after President Obama proudly boasted that his self-described tough “moral leadership” had succeeded in isolating Russia and its leadership in punishment for its invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin was invited to feature prominently in next week’s 70th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day Allied invasion of Europe.
French President François Hollande formally invited Russia’s allegedly isolated leader to take full part in the ceremonies and to meet face-to-face with all major western leaders that will gather there, presumably including President Obama, although the White House would not comment on whether the two leaders would meet alone.
Furthermore, the French President’s office issued a statement announcing that President Putin will be fêted with a full dinner of state at the Élysée Palace with President Hollande.
Obama’s comments, made Wednesday in a widely covered commencement address to graduating cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, were made less than a week after Russia finalized the largest bilateral energy partnership in history: a $500 billion, 30-year energy deal with China.
The so-called “successful isolation” of Russia that President Obama proclaimed Wednesday also came just weeks before France delivers the first of several state-of-the-art, billion-dollar Mistral class assault ships to the Russian Navy. Once delivered, the French-built assault ships will immediately alter the balance of sea power wherever the allegedly isolated Russian navy deploys them.
The Mistrals, soon to be christened the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol (ironically named after the Crimean city invaded and stolen from Ukraine by Russia), are built to carry and land hundreds of soldiers, up to 15 heavy tanks, as well as more than a dozen heavy helicopter gunships. Neither Russia’s invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea nor its continued efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine have prompted France to even delay let alone cancel its naval partnership with Moscow. The 400 Russian naval officers can expect a warm welcome when they start arriving in France next week to begin to take delivery of their new warships.