~ Letter comes on eve of D.C. visit by French Foreign Minister ~
May 09 2014
(WASHINGTON) – In a bipartisan letter to President Obama, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Bill Keating (D-MA) today urged the President to oppose the sale of French Mistral warships to Russia in light of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The letter was sent today, in advance of next week’s scheduled visit to the U.S. by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
“As you know, in the midst of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its continued training and arming of militants in Eastern Ukraine, France is scheduled to deliver two Mistral Carriers to the Russian Navy,” the lawmakers wrote. “Mr. President, Members of the NATO Alliance cannot continue to arm Russia – let alone arm her with high-tech military equipment that will only abet its efforts to undermine Eastern European governments that aspire to be modern, European democracies. France, and all NATO allies, must make tough choices when responding to this new, aggressive Russian foreign policy. We call on you to demand France suspend the sale of these two Mistral Carriers to Russia.”
The bipartisan letter also cites Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia to illustrate what Russia’s increased naval capabilities with the new ships could mean for regional security. “The head of the Russian navy, Commander Vladimir Vysotsky, stated that victory in the Georgian conflict would have been finished ‘in just 40 minutes’ had they been equipped with the French-made Mistrals,” the letter says. “Mr. Putin himself said ‘I can assure you that if we purchase this armament, we will use it wherever we deemed necessary.’”