15:32 GMT +320 September 2019
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    The Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok is seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire

    Ghost of Botched Mistral Sale Looms Over France's New Military Deal With Poland

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    A new military deal between Paris and Warsaw has already been clinched, but it remains to be seen how the document will be implemented, Russian defense expert Ivan Konovalov told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, defense expert Ivan Konovalov of the Institute of Strategic Studies, a Moscow-based think tank, questioned the feasibility of a recent military deal between Poland and France.

    Earlier this week, Poland's state-run defense company PGZ and the French military shipbuilder DCNS signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate together on the construction of at least three submarines at Poland's Baltic shipyards.

    Notably, the memorandum came more than three months after Warsaw cancelled a preliminary $3.4 billion deal with Paris on the purchase of 50 French Airbus H225M Caracal Helicopters.

    In this vein, Konovalov said that "the information on a weapons development cooperation deal between France and Poland is a subject of concern for Paris, not Moscow."

    "All the more so, given that we remember a recent incident with the Mistral vessels and Caracal helicopters. The Polish government asked [French President Francois] Hollande not to sell these amphibious ships to Russia, and in return Warsaw pledged to buy 50 French Airbus helicopters. At the end of the day, Warsaw announced plans to cancel this deal and buy the US-made helicopters instead," according to Konovalov.

    Scorpene-class submarine (File)
    © AP Photo /
    Scorpene-class submarine (File)

    "The scandal was tremendous. In this context, the current deal between PGZ and DCNS on the construction of submarines at the shipyards in Poland may be called into question," he pointed out.

    According to him, Warsaw deems it important to become a "friend number one" for the new US Administration.

    "Warsaw came quite close to the position of a "friend number one" of the US in so-called new Europe. I think that the Trump factor will play a major role in revising the European security concept under Washington's supervision. Polish politicians, for their part, will make every effort to keep their country's status quo in its relations with Washington," Konovalov said.

    Commenting on the PGZ-DCNS agreement, French military expert Christian Vallar told Sputnik France that the document can be perceived as something that enhances NATO's clout.

    "We can see two aspects concerning this agreement. The first aspect pertains to France simply selling its military hardware, while the other aspect is related to strengthening NATO's position [in Europe and beyond]," he pointed out.

    Meanwhile, the Polish Defense Ministry reported last week that almost 1,000 United States soldiers and the first shipment of equipment for an American tank brigade have arrived in Poland. The extra military presence is part of the Atlantic Resolve operation, launched by the US military in April, 2014.

    The incoming tank brigade is comprised of approximately 3,500 service personnel, 87 tanks, 18 self-propelled Paladin howitzers, 144 Bradley fighting vehicles and over 400 Humvees.

    In July 2016, NATO held a summit in Warsaw, where defense ministers finalized arrangements to deploy multinational NATO battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, totaling around 4,000 troops.

    The summit also confirmed the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems and radars in Romania and Poland and confirmed that the United States would deploy 1,000 troops in Poland.

    Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was concerned with "NATO's course on deterring Russia, which undermines European strategic stability."

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