The top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), welcomed news Tuesday that France was postponing the sale of a warship to Russia indefinitely.
“By taking this step, a vital NATO ally has sent a strong message that Russian aggression is incompatible with being a partner on the global stage,” Engel said in a statement.
“At the same time, frontline countries in Eastern Europe should breathe a bit easier knowing these assets will be kept out of Putin’s hands,” he said.
U.S. lawmakers had pressured France to cancel the sale of two Mistral-class warships to Moscow, following its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in March.
France announced Tuesday it was suspending the planned delivery of the first ship to Russia. The second one is slated for delivery next year.
France stopped short of canceling its contract with Moscow, which would cost France more than 1 billion euros and thousands of jobs.
Engel said the U.S. and western allies should look for a way to spare France the “financial hit that could accompany this courageous step.” Some lawmakers have floated the idea of NATO purchasing or leasing the ships instead.
“Whether by that course or another, we need to stand together with France and help ease the burden they risk taking on. This sort of shared responsibility and unified action is essential —now and in the days ahead — to respond to Russia’s blatant ambition for expanding its power in Europe,” he said.