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Saakashvili bigger threat in Black Sea than Mistral ship - Rogozin

© RIA Novosti . Alexei Danichev / Go to the photo bankMistral
Mistral - Sputnik International
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Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is a greater threat to security in the Black Sea region than the Mistral-class helicopter carrier Russia intends to buy from France, Moscow's envoy to NATO said on Friday.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is a greater threat to security in the Black Sea region than the Mistral-class helicopter carrier Russia intends to buy from France, Moscow's envoy to NATO said on Friday.

"The real threat in the Black Sea basin is no longer the notorious Mistral that Russia might buy, but Saakashvili himself," Dmitry Rogozin told RIA Novosti on Friday.

Speaking on Thursday at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, Saakashvili criticized the plans of the French authorities to sell Russia a Mistral-class amphibious assault vessel, as well as over recent reports of talks for the sale of armored vehicles.

The Russian military earlier announced that it was considering buying one of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, worth 400-500 million euros (around $540-$675 million), and potentially building three or four vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS. The French government has approved the sale but Russia has not yet made a final decision.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.

Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, but the Russian military has said such a vessel would have allowed the Russian Navy to conduct a more efficient operation in the Black Sea during the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

However, many experts believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.

 

BRUSSELS, February 19 (RIA Novosti)

 

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