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NATO allies worried by France plans to sell Mistral ships to RF

May 11, 2012, 14:20 UTC+3

The document says that the news of the purchase of the warships by Russia has caused particular concern in the Baltic countries

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WASHINGTION, May 11 (Itar-Tass) – Some NATO members believe that the supply of European weapons to Russia could cause destabilisation on the continent, it is said in a report of the US Congressional Research Service (CRS). The study, in particular, refers to the contract concluded last June between Russia and France on the sale of the Mistral class amphibious assault vessels - helicopter carriers to the Russian side (two ships will be built in France, and two more - in Russia). In the view of the report authors, the contract has “exposed tension within the alliance over NATO’s relations with Russia.”

The CRS produced the 31-page report on request from senior Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, who had expressed concern that the weapons could be used against US allies and that sales might one day expand to China.

The document says that the news of the purchase of the warships by Russia has caused particular concern in the Baltic countries. The US administration has also objected to signing the contract, arguing that such a deal “could send the wrong message both to Russia and to some Central and Eastern European allies” (of the US). At the same time, Washington has not strongly opposed the Russian-French contract, as it attached major importance to improving relations with Moscow, according to the report.

The Obama administration launched a “reset” in US-Russia relations in 2009 and has been “a proponent of extending this policy approach to the NATO-Russia relationship,” the study said.

In addition to the purchase of the Mistral vessels, Russia reached an agreement with the German concern Rheinmetall on the construction of a military training centre in the Nizhny Novgorod Region. In addition, an Italian company will supply light armoured vehicles to Russia. “French, German, and Italian officials stress that recent military sales to Russia should be viewed as a logical step in advancing a broader political goal of strategic partnership with Russia,” the report said.


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