It appears that Francois Holland, aka “soft testicle” (nickname given to him by Martine Aubry, First Secretary of the Socialist Party of France), has outdone even Tony Blair as the US’s most docile poodle in Europe. After resisting US pressure for a long time and being fined billions of dollars for doing so, he has suddenly decided to cave in and suspend the delivery of the French Mistrals to Russia. However, not will the US will not return to 9 billion dollars extorted out of Paribas, now the Russian can impose astronomical penalties on France for breach of contract. Double whammy for Hollande!
Now I suspect that this is a measure which will last exactly as long as the upcoming NATO summit and that as soon it is over the “circumstances for delivery” will magically become “right again”. As for Russia – no worries. She will either get the ships or get a huge load of money. A win-win situation for sure
But that is hardly the point.
First, whether Russia really needs these French ships is an extremely controversial issue in Russia, especially in the military. I did not take a poll, but my guess is that most of the military don’t want them and rather spend the money elsewhere. This was a Medvedev purchase which was far from having a unanimity behind it. Personally, I think that the Mistrals are very good ships, very versatile, and that Russia could use on in the Black Sea and one in the Far East. They also come at at time with the Russian shipbuilding industry is over-worked and does not have the capacity to fulfill all the orders of the Russian Navy. Finally, the Mistrals come with an advanced communication and command infrastructure which the Russian would like to get their hands one. But I have always had a weak spot for French weapon systems and nobody asked me my opinion anyway. Besides, there are cheaper way for Russian to get that kind of capabilities or systems.
I think that the real importance of the Mistral contact was to show Russia, France and the rest of the world that the two countries could work together, even on huge contracts, that France is a credibly supplier and that the Russian and French military industrial complexes can cooperate.
Now the French look like total whips and idiots.
That is really unfair. The French deserve a great deal of credit for doing everything just right, sining such a complex agreement is no small task, and for designing a superb ship. Now all this is compromised by Francois “soft testicle” Hollande who clearly has the vision, courage, intelligence and leadership qualities of a blue-green algae.
I bet you the ships will be delivered more or less on time. But a terrible blow has been dealt to one of values the French hold extremely dear: the independence of their country from all other big powers. If the British are more or less resigned to their role as janitor for Uncle Sam, the French will not accept this and I expect the hatred for the current regime to become even more virulent than it is today. I tend to agree with French economist Pierre Jovanovic when he predicts that “King Francois” (another of his nicknames) will never finish his term in office.
Pauvre, pauvre France…