2. Update — Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said France’s decision to suspend delivery was important for restoring peace in Europe.
“The Ministry of Defense doesn’t see any particular tragedy in this, although, of course, it’s unpleasant and adds on a certain tension to our interactions with our French partners, but revoking this contract won’t be a tragedy for us as concerns our rearmament and realizing the government arms program,” deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov told the state Itar-TASS news agency.
“France’s reputation as a reliable partner that fulfills contractual obligations has been thrown into the furnace of America’s political ambitions,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page. “Where are the times when Paris didn’t buckle under pressure from the States, for example, on the Iraq issue? […] But then the Elysee Palace, which still had independence in its foreign policy decision-making, showed character. Today France fell. It’s a good thing de Gaulle can’t see this disgrace. Although that’s a question of faith.”
France suspended the delivery of two Mistral navy assault ships to Russia on Wednesday citing Moscow’s military intervention in the Ukrainian conflict. The French government said conditions were “not right” for the delivery. The decision comes as NATO members will discuss taking concrete steps to deal with Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine during the Wales Summit this week.
“Russia’s recent actions run against the foundations of security in Europe,” President Francois Hollande’s office said in a statement, Reuters reported. “The president of the republic has concluded that despite the prospect of cease-fire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place.”
The French government was under pressure from the U.S. and its allies to cancel its delivery of two helicopter carriers, the first of which was due in October. But until now France had not given in to the pressure to halt delivery of the warships which would have boosted Russia’s amphibious capability, the BBC reported.
France had long been criticized by its allies for the $1.6 billion sale of weaponry to Moscow in 2011. Around 400 Russian soldiers had begun training aboard the first French warship in June.