The Eurasia Daily Monitor reports:
The French government and, apparently, the Ã‰lysÃ©e Palace are moving fast to sell at least one Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia, possibly for deployment in the Black Sea. Such a sale would endow Russia with a modern naval and amphibious warfare capability that Russia currently lacks. The Mistral is by definition a power-projection capability and it can be deployed for intimidating effect on Russia's maritime neighbors.
Less than two months ago the Russian Navy's Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy, had announced Moscow's intention to buy a Mistral-class helicopter carrier from France and the license to build several ships of this class in Russia. He also hinted at possible Russian deployment of this capability to meet contingencies in the Black Sea: "In the conflict in August last year [against Georgia], a ship like that would have allowed [Russia's] Black Sea Fleet to accomplish its mission in 40 minutes, not 26 hours which is how long it took us [to land the troops ashore]."...
French authorities ignore warnings such as that of Sorbonne professor Francoise Thom: "Is it wise to arm a country that has just dismembered a neighboring state, Georgia, and no longer conceals its intentions to restore, by force if necessary, its hegemony in the ex-Soviet space? Is France, in the name of its â€˜strategic partnership' with Russia, closing its eyes to Russian preparations for future wars of aggression, which will become possible once Russia's military reform, launched in September 2008, will have borne fruit? We must not be deluded into selling offensive armaments to Russia."
As Noonan explained earlier today, "This is how Putin operates. He messages with force." And by the way, the geniuses behind our new missile defense posture have traded missile sites in Poland, a NATO member, for sea-based missile defense that will be heavily dependent on access to the Black Sea. So, it's more than a little troubling that the Russians are now moving to rapidly upgrade their capabilities in the very same region. And our friends in Georgia must be delighted that the Russians plan to put additional assets along a shoreline that is starting to look like the powderkeg equivalent of Belgrade in 1913.
Is this the smart power dividend? Paris and the Kremlin working in perfect harmony to threaten U.S. interests?