January 01, 2015

Note Book

Two huge ships that France has nearly finished constructing for Russia are on ice. Western sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine and fears that Russia might exploit the Western technology the warships contain have put delivery on hold.

The Mistral-class helicopter carriers are still in France, where Russian sailors are undergoing training. But the sailors may have to head home without the ships, as France’s NATO allies are ratcheting up the pressure to convince Paris to walk away from the $1.5 billion contract.

Meanwhile, France is between a rock and a hard place, unwilling to give warships to an increasingly militant Russia – whose navy and air force has allegedly violated European waters and airspace quite frequently of late – while desperate not to end up with two ships fitted out for Russian sailors that it cannot sell to anyone else. (Well, except perhaps Ukraine.)

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