Re: US voices 'concerns' at sale of French warships to Russia.....
Originally Posted by MMC
US officials voiced concern Thursday at the sale of French warships to Moscow as they mulled tougher sanctions on Russia for the political upheaval triggered by the Ukraine crisis.
"We have regularly and consistently expressed our concerns about this sale even before we had the latest Russian actions and we will continue to do so," Assistant Secretary for Europe Victoria Nuland told US lawmakers ahead of a visit next week to Washington by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
The first of two Mistral warships is not due to be delivered to Russia until later this year, and France has so far resisted pressure to suspend the controversial $1.2 billion contract.
The Mistral is an advanced helicopter assault ship and France's 2011 agreement to sell them to Russia already triggered protests from the United States and other NATO allies.
The first, named the Vladivostok, is due to be delivered in October, while the second, "The Sebastopol" is to be delivered in 2015 and stationed with the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea -- annexed by Moscow in March.
Lawmakers also pushed for France to halt the sale, saying it would be a clear sign of global anger at what they said was the "aggression" of Russian President Vladimir Putin toward Ukraine.....snip~