Washington – Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and five other U.S. senators are trying to tell French President François Hollande what to do.
More specifically, Murphy and Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. and Edward Markey, D-Mass., have sent a letter to Hollande asking he halt the delivery of two French-made warships to the Russian Navy that cost about $1.6 billion each.
“In light of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea, we are writing specifically to urge you to cancel the delivery of two Mistral-class warships to the Russian Navy and end all cooperation on future construction,” the letter said. “These military warships are designed explicitly for the type of invasion that occurred in Ukraine. Any further arms sales from the French government to the Russian military would enhance Russia’s power projection, ability to intimidate neighboring countries, and illegally seize sovereign territory.”
The French embassy in Washington did not have an immediate response.
But it looks like France is ready to deliver the ships. According to a story in today’s Wall Street Journal, the French Navy is training hundreds of Russian sailors to operate the vessels.
Russian President Vlademir Putin has recently dangled a carrot to Hollande, promising to buy more military equipment from France if he ignores calls from the United States and other nations to stop doing business with Russia.
“We expect our French partners to fulfill their contractual obligations, and if everything goes as we agreed, we will not rule out the possibility of further orders — and not necessarily in naval shipbuilding,” Putin told a Russian newspaper.
Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the other senators who signed the letter also took the opportunity to once again press the U.S. government to stop its contracts with Russian state defense contractor Rosoboronexport, which has a Pentagon contract to provide helicopters to Afghan armed forces.