MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) – The efforts to derail the Mistral-class helicopter carrier contract between Russia and France by the US are an attempt to weaken the French defense industry, especially since NATO has no need for the ships, Igor Korotchenko, Editor-in-Chief of National Defense magazine, told RIA Novosti.
“Obviously, if this deal is derailed, Russia and France will have to reconsider their entire military-technical cooperation which currently includes not only Mistral-type carriers, but also other mutually profitable projects and agreements which significantly benefit Paris,” Korotchenko said.
On Friday, a group of American congressmen called on NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to purchase or lease two Mistral-class warships which are being constructed for Russia by France.
“We believe that the sale would send the wrong signal to President Putin – that it is ‘business as usual’ – and would enhance Russia’s military capabilities, even as President Putin has threatened further military actions against Russia’s neighbors,” lawmakers said in a letter to the NATO chief.
According to Korotchenko, the letter is “a US attempt to hit French defense industry and weaken America’s competitors in the market.”
France has been under increased pressure from the US and other EU countries over its refusal to cancel the 1.2 billion euro ($1.6 billion) deal, claiming it is too big to go back on.
The first of the two ships, the Vladivostok, is due to be delivered by the end of this year, while the second, the Sevastopol, will arrive in November 2015 and will join the Pacific fleet in the second half of 2016, after it is outfitted with Russian weapons systems.