03:01 GMT14 August 2020
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    Deal Cancelled: What Will Paris Do With Russia's Mistrals? (57)
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    A group of French citizens living in Russia, known as “The Free Frenchmen” (Les Français Libres), started a petition asking the government in Paris to stop anti-Russian sanctions and to follow through with the Mistral deal, Le Figaro reported.

    The petition has been already signed by over 3,500 people. Ten French members of parliaments, a number of French intellectuals and economists also supported the document. The petition provides eight reasons for why France should have delivered the two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia for its own benefit.

    1. For the sake of the French defense industry.

    The contract needs to be completed, otherwise France will lose €1.2 billion. The ships are equipped with navigation and weapon system that could be used only by the Russian Fleet; therefore, it won't be possible to sell the ships to other countries. DCNS and STX [French companies specialized in naval and defense building] are strategically-important businesses for France and to undermine their position is a real crime. This would be a severe blow to our defense industry, one of the best in the world, Le Figaro said.

    2. For the sake of France's reputation.

    France needs to preserve its image of the credible supplier of arms. Besides Russia and the United States, France is pretty much the only country capable of manufacturing almost an entire range of land, sea and aerial military hardware. Washington's main goal is not to harm Russia, but to get rid of the French competition [in the arms sale business]. The refusal to deliver the Mistrals to Russia already damaged France's reputation — the country failed to secure a lucrative military contract with India on the delivery of Rafale fighter jets, the petition said.

    3. For the sake of French greatness.

    France has a rich diplomatic heritage. In the past, France was the power that guaranteed equilibrium and preserved the dialogue between the United States, Russia and Germany. France must act on its own and defend its national interests, rather than following orders from others, the authors of the petition argued.

    4. For the sake of saving jobs.

    Anti-Russian sanctions are hitting primarily France and Europe. In January 2015, the United States signed a billion-dollar contract on the delivery of RD-181rocket engines, while the US' Bell will start to assemble their helicopters in Russia by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Europe will lose 2 million jobs and €100 billion worth of production because of the anti-Russian sanctions. In the first quarter of 2015, French exports fell by 35 percent, Le Figaro said.

    5. For the sake of French national interests.

    France is Russia's second largest European trade partner and therefore Paris has significant interests at stake when it comes to having good relations with the Kremlin. The two sides signed a number of strategic agreements in the fields of aviation, nuclear development and space. France can't afford to lose its privileged partner status, the petition stressed.

    6. For the sake of friendship between France and Russia.

    Without Russia, Europe will never be "complete." It will be a huge mistake for France to turn its back on Russia, as the two nations have been each other's source of inspiration over the past three hundred years. Russia played a key role during World War II, liberating France and Europe from German Nazism. France can't break its centuries-long friendship with Russia because of the refusal to supply the two Mistrals, Le Figaro said.

    7. For the sake of peace in Europe.

    Europe should put an end to playing the useless political game of sanction and counter-sanction and move on towards resolving the Ukrainian crisis. The only solution is to resume cooperation between Ukraine, Russia and other European countries. Our continent should not be a battleground where each country has its zone of influence. We need to build a greater Europe: France should initiate this project and become a standard bearer for it, the authors said.

    8. For the sake of developing Ukraine.

    There is only one way to solve the Ukrainian crisis — using an open and honest dialogue between members of the Normandy Quartet (France, Russia, Germany and Ukraine) on the basis of the Minsk peace agreements. France should make sure Ukraine stays neutral and doesn't provoke Russia by stating it wants to be part of NATO. Such statements only aggravate the situation and won't lead to the settlement of the crisis. Finally, only a joint action on behalf of the EU and Russia can help Ukraine to overcome the economic catastrophe the country's currently mired in, the petition said.

    Unfortunately for France, the petition comes a little too late. On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande made a final decision to terminate the Mistral contract.    

    Topic:
    Deal Cancelled: What Will Paris Do With Russia's Mistrals? (57)

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    Tags:
    France, job cuts, bad diplomacy, reputation, unemployment, petition, Mistral delivery, Russia
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