President Francois Hollande defied American and British allies by confirming plans to deliver a helicopter carrier to Russia. Speaking on the eve of an EU meeting to discuss sanctions on Moscow over the downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, Hollande said late on Monday that a first Mistral warship would be handed over on schedule in October — but a decision on a second would depend on Russia's attitude. Only hours earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron said it would be "unthinkable" for his country to fulfill such an order amid the current crisis in Ukraine. The United States has also said it opposes the sale.
"This is a false debate led by hypocrites," Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, head of Hollande's ruling Socialist Party, said on Tuesday. "When you see how many (Russian) oligarchs have sought refuge in London, David Cameron should start by cleaning up his own backyard." The 1.2-billion-euro ($1.62 billion) contract for the two warships, signed by then-president Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative government in 2011, was the first by a NATO member country to supply Russia with military equipment.
STRINGER / Reuters
Russian sailors are seen on deck of Russian navy frigate Smolny as it arrives at the Saint-Nazaire STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in western France, June 30, 2014. About four hundred Russian sailors arrived in western France on Monday for training on Mistral-class amphibious assault ships before the Vladivostock, the first of two, is delivered to Moscow by the end of the year.
First published July 22 2014, 9:22 AM