Eight US lawmakers are pressing NATO’s new secretary general to purchase French warships currently bound for Russia.
France has faced pressure to cancel a transaction that would deliver two Mistral-class amphibious and helicopter carrier ships to Moscow since Russia seized the Crimea region of Ukraine and territory in that former Soviet state’s eastern half. French President François Hollande is set to decide the fate of the deal this month.
As he reaches a decision, eight US House members are trying to sell him on an alternative.
“Sensitive to the financial burden that France may incur should it rightly refuse to transfer these warships to Russia, we renew our call that NATO purchase or lease the warships as a common naval asset,” the lawmakers wrote to alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“Such a decisive move by NATO is not without precedent and would show [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin that our rhetorical resolve is matched by our actual resolve and that this Alliance will not tolerate or abet his dangerous actions in Europe,” states the Nov. 4 letter.
The lawmakers had sent a similar letter to Stoltenberg’s predecessor, and said Russia’s actions since have only strengthened their call for the West to buy the ships.
“Russian government actions have only heightened our concern over this potential transfer and strengthened our resolve to oppose it while exploring creative and constructive options to promote unity among our allies at a time when, to quote … Hollande, Russia’s actions ‘contravene the fundamental principles of European security’,” they wrote.
Because of continued Russian aggression in Ukraine, the US members told Hollande that “such a transfer should be unthinkable, at the moment, and for as long as Russia’s government maintains its threatening posture toward NATO and occupies territories in neighboring European countries in gross violation of international law.”