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 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.09.2021
On 15 September, the US, UK, and Australia announced the new trilateral AUKUS defence partnership. While the partners said it's designed to protect and defend "our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific", some experts believe the true purpose of the partnership is to counter China.

Paris to Bill Canberra for Cancellation of Submarine Deal After AUKUS Pact

© AFP 2021 / CHARLY TRIBALLEAUWorkers of The Naval Group plant in Cherbourg-Octeville, north-western France on July 9, 2017
Workers of The Naval Group plant in Cherbourg-Octeville, north-western France on July 9, 2017 - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.09.2021
The cancellation of Australia's order for French submarines as a result of the trilateral defence pact between Washington, Canberra and London has caused great indignation in France. Even though Paris agreed to return its ambassador Philippe Etienne to the US after having recalled him, it has not done the same regarding Australia.
France is set to send Australia a bill "in a few weeks" to compensate for the submarine deal that was cancelled because of the AUKUS security pact, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.
Pierre-Eric Pommellet, the chief executive of Naval Group, which had been due to build submarines for Australia, told the newspaper that, since the contract was terminated on Canberra's own accord, his company is not "at fault". He also said that the cancellation of the submarine deal had been a complete surprise for the firm.
“We were in shock. This decision was announced to us without any notice,” he told the newspaper. “Very few companies have experienced such a [brutal] scenario.”
According to Pommellet, the company was informed of the contract termination on 15 September, the exact day the AUKUS pact was announced.
Moreover, according to Hervé Grandjean, a spokesman for France's Ministry of Defence, on the very same day the ministry and Naval Group received an official letter from the Australian Navy in which it praised the "excellent" performance of the French-made submarines.
Grandjean is cited by The Guardian as saying that a senior official who was overseeing the project informed him that he had “taken a close look at the state of progress in the contract, in line with the contract, and was extremely satisfied that performance of the French submarine was excellent, which clearly means that we were to move to the next phase of the contract”.
According to The Guardian, a spokesman for the Australian government confirmed that the letter had been sent, but noted that "this correspondence did not refer to, or authorise, commencement of the next phase of the programme, which remained subject to the announcement of decisions by the Australian government."
On 16 September, Naval Group issued a statement concerning the matter, saying that the submarine deal fall-out was "a major disappointment" for the company "which was offering Australia a regionally superior conventional submarine with exceptional performance."
After the AUKUS-prompted cancellation of the French submarine deal with Australia, Paris dramatically withdrew its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra. Although France has already agreed to return it US ambassador Philippe Etienne to Washington next week, Australian PM Scott Morrison reportedly faced nothing but silence from the French president when he tried to contact him, and there is no indication as to when Canberra may expect the French ambassador back.
The reaction against the United Kingdom was not as harsh as that for the US and Australia, with France believing that London was a "third wheel" in the trilateral security pact. However, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson still weighed in on the tensions surrounding AUKUS, using his Franglais to say that it was time for Paris to “prenez un grip” (“get a grip”) and “donnez-moi un break” (“give me a break”).
This handout picture taken on July 18, 2020 and released on October 20, 2020 by French shipbuilder Naval Group shows new French navy nuclear attack submarine Suffren, a Barracuda class, arriving at Toulon's naval base - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.09.2021
European Commission Yet Undecided on AUKUS Deal Response
Paris described the AUKUS pact as a "stab in the back", with French Defence Minister Florence Parly accusing the United States of attempting to instigate a confrontation with China. Beijing, in its turn, also voiced concerns that the pact could undermine non-proliferation efforts in the Asia-Pacific region and prompt an arms race.
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