• France's news in English

Russian sailors in France under warship deal

AFP/The Local · 30 Jun 2014, 10:01

Published: 30 Jun 2014 10:01 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

France had gone ahead with the sale of two Mistral warships to Russia, despite calls from NATO and the United States to hold off on the €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) deal over the crisis in Ukraine.

During their training, the 400 sailors will be staying onboard a Russian ship docked behind one of the two Mistral helicopter carriers.

France agreed the sale under a 2011 contract, with the first vessel due for delivery in October and the second in 2015.

The Mistral, the second largest ship in the French navy, is a high-seas military base that can transport up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 60 armed vehicles and some 700 troops.

France has said it is leaving the door open to re-examining the $1.6 billion contract in October, when the first warship is scheduled for delivery to the Russian fleet.

Since Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, Washington has voiced repeated objections to the deal, but Russia has stressed that France would face heavy penalties if the deal is scrapped.

"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," Assistant Secretary for Europe Victoria Nuland told US lawmakers ahead of a visit to Washington by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in May.

US lawmakers also pushed for France to halt the sale, saying it would be a clear sign of global anger at what they said was the "aggression" of Russian President Vladimir Putin toward Ukraine.

"If we increase NATO defense spending while joining in a coordinated embargo on all arms sales to Russia, including halting the sale of two French-built Mistral amphibious ships, it will send a clear message to Putin that he will not be allowed to trample on the rights of his neighbors," Congressman Eliot Engel, a Democrat, told the House Foreign Affairs committee.

Story continues below…

"I'm not here to bash the French, but I think this is a time when the French could stop that sale from happening and send a very strong message to the Russians," added Republican lawmaker Adam Kinzinger.

But French officials reacted with astonishment, denying that US officials had expressed worries over the contract.

"The United States, like the Europeans, have never voiced privately any concerns about this," a French government official told AFP, asking not to be identified.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available