Russia orders more warships constructed - Mistral Class Amphibious Assault ships
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Sale of French warships to Russia raises alarm in NATO
Eastern European countries fear the deal, worth at least $1.3 billion, will let Moscow exert greater control over coastal regions.
December 29, 2010|By Kim Willsher, Los Angeles
TimesReporting from Paris — France is selling at least two warships to Russia in an unprecedented military deal that has angered the United States and other NATO countries.
The French reaction to the sale was jubilation, with the presidential palace's website declaring, "France's naval industry has won."
However, the deal also has provoked disquiet in some of Russia's Eastern European neighbors.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene criticized the decision to sell "extremely complex offensive weaponry to a third party, a country where the level of democracy is not one we can feel safe about."
"It's a big mistake," she said.
The amphibious assault ships being sold to Russia — it may buy as many as four — can hold 16 helicopters, dozens of tanks, 70 armored vehicles and 450 troops for up to six months. For shorter periods, the number of troops rises to 700.
The vessels can also carry landing barges and hovercraft, allowing for the rapid deployment of vehicles, tanks and soldiers from ship to shore, enhancing Russia's control over coastal regions and striking power in conflicts like the one with Georgia in 2008.
[link to articles.latimes.com]
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