05 June 2014

France: Ready to train up Russian Seamen

Russia placed an order with France for two amphibious assault Mistral-class warships back in 2008.

The first carrier is ready to be sailed to Russia later this year, and the second one is due to be completed in 2015.

HOWEVER, Obama and other NATO allies have been putting pressure on France to cancel the order, arguing the ships will significantly enhance Russian naval power. Yeah, can't have that, eh?

France's  president Francois Hollande, at the height of the Crimea over-reaction, threatened to cancel the delivery and was all for strong sanctions against Russia. His loyalty to NATO was almost winning over, when America - once again - stepped in to make the decision easy for Hollande.  

This week Eric Holder - the US Attorney General - announced a potential $10 billion fine for BNP Paribas - France's largest bank - for alleged dealings with a sanctioned Iran and other sanctioned countries.

Haha - Obama and his administration just don't know when to give it a rest. Their timing on trying to be overly dramatic is usually way off target. Or, more likely, it was a blackmail attempt gone wrong - either you cancel the Russian order, or we fine you $10 billion......

So, is it any surprise then that Hollande has now decided to ignore Obama's request to renege on the delivery of the carriers, and instead announced today that France would be training 400 Russian seamen from June 22 for the next few months in anticipation of the first carrier being piloted to Russia later this year? No, I wouldn't think it's a surprise, seeing as most of France is upset about the $10 billion fine. 

Is Holder going to personally collect the money if France doesn't pay?? Seeing as he's a coward, I wouldn't think so.

It also seems that economics won out in the end - as it should. Hollande has ruined the French economy with all his socialist policies and his popularity is in the toilet. People are desperate for jobs. Putin said in an interview two days ago that if France cancels the delivery, then Russia has to be refunded and hinted that no other military contracts or business would go to France:
PUTIN: "France is entitled to decide against selling the ships, but in that case we should get our money back. This would mean that our countries won’t have an opportunity to develop ties in the defence sector – but overall we are ready to expand our cooperation and even to place new orders, if our French partners are interested.  We expect our French partners to fulfil their contractual obligations, and if everything goes as we agreed, we will not rule out the possibility of further orders – and not necessarily in naval shipbuilding; they may concern other sectors as well. Overall, our relations in this area are developing well, and we would like to continue strengthening them – in aviation, shipbuilding, and other sectors. We have successful cooperation experience in space exploration, at the Guiana Space Centre near Kourou. 

France doesn't have €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) lying around to pay Russia back, nor can they afford to lose over 1000 jobs or any other potential business deals with Russia. Is America going to guarantee France work in the future? I don't think so.

Obama needs to think consequences through a bit better before he goes around threatening other countries to do as he says.

Putin must be laughing his head off...... again.

Putin's Mistral ship almost ready for delivery

In the aftermath of the Russian sanctions, which French president Francois Hollande vehemently approved after constantly slamming Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict, and even went so far to threaten the cancellation of a delivery of a powerful French-made amphibious assault warship, the Mistral, to be delivered to Russia something happened: in the latest demonstration of its impotence to punish domestic bankers, the US decided to slap a French bank, BNP Paribas with a $10 billion fine for money laundering.

As a result, France has suddenly found itself battling two populist fronts: on one hand it had to continue its foreign policy track of siding with NATO and the US when it comes to Russian developments; on the other it had to responds to howls of protest from the population bashing the US for having the temerity to punish its flagship bank (recall "France Furious At US $10 Billion BNP "Masterful Slap", "Racketeering" Fine").

Today, it was revealed that in weighing the two evils, it picked what it thought was the lesser one, and as the WSJ reports "a group of 400 Russian sailors are scheduled to arrive on June 22 in the French Atlantic port of Saint-Nazaire to undergo months of instruction before some of them pilot the first of two Mistral-class carriers back to Russia in the fall, said one of these people."

As the WSJ explains, the training is a pivotal step that deepens France's commitment to fulfilling the €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) contract to supply Russia with the carriers, which are built to launch amphibious attacks with landing craft, helicopters and tanks.

Read more HERE

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