France decided to honor their $1.66 billion contract for Mistral helicopter carriers with Russia despite pressure from the European Union to cancel the deal. French ministers said that cancelling the deal would harm Paris more than Moscow.
“The Mistrals are not part of the third level of sanctions. They will be delivered. The contract has been paid and there would be financial penalties for not delivering it.
“It would be France that is penalized. It’s too easy to say France has to give up on the sale of the ships. We have done our part.”
The deal was made in 2011 and even then NATO did not approve of the deal. It was only three years after Russia invaded ex-Soviet state Georgia.
“We have regularly and consistently expressed our concerns about this sale, even before we had the latest Russian actions, and we will continue to do so,” [US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria] Nuland told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, setting up a potentially uncomfortable meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Washington on Tuesday.
President Obama wants to talk to French President Francois Hollande about the contract when they meet in Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Putin will be at the ceremonies along with other EU leaders.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius “said last week he believed the European Union should include an arms embargo in any new round of sanctions on Russia.” Lithuania is one of the countries that fears it will be Putin’s target after Ukraine. It is also one of the countries that wants to place harsh sanctions on Russia, but cannot do it because they are a member of the EU.
The United States is growing agitated with the EU for not taking a tougher stance against Russia. The US has passed sanctions against people in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, including his right hand man Igor Sechin. Sechin is the President and Chairman of Rosneft, Russia’s top petroleum company that has major deals with ExxonMobil and British Petroleum (BP). While Rosneft the company was not sanctioned, the sanctions against Sechin are weighing heavily on ExxonMobil. The EU announced they are planning on placing more sanctions on people and companies tied to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March.