France asssures Baltics over plan on selling warship to Russia

France told Lithuania its plans to sell Russia a warship, if realised, would not involve any transfer of military technology, a spokesman for Lithuania said.

France asssures Baltics over plan on selling warship to Russia

France told Lithuania on Wednesday its plans to sell Russia a warship, if realised, would not involve any transfer of military technology, a spokesman for Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said.

Plans by Paris to sell military equipment to Moscow have raised concerns among its NATO allies Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, ex-Soviet republics which fear that any such deal could affect their security.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent his European Affairs Minister Pierre Lellouche to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia this week to calm nerves.

"He (Lellouche) assured, that if the deal on the Mistral sale is reached, France would sell the ship stripped of military equipment, as a civilian vessel," Lithuanian presidential spokesman Linas Balsys told Reuters.

Lithuanian media cited experts as saying that the ship would still be of interest to Russia, because it was buying Mistral not for the weaponry but for its ability to transport troops at high speed, a capability Russia lacks at the moment.

"The French minister said they have not yet received an official request from Russia to buy the ship," Balsys said.

"Any such kind of deal, a very sensitive deal should be discussed under the framework of EU's common foreign and security policy or at the NATO," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azublis said on Wednesday in Riga after meeting his Latvian counterpart.

Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins said his country was also concerned about the deal.

"We cannot be extremely happy about the sequence of the events when it comes to this deal. Namely we would prefer to have been consulted about this intention before we learned about this from the media," he said.

Russia started talks to buy a Mistral class helicopter carrier from France to modernise hardware that was exposed as outdated when Moscow invaded the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia to drive out Georgian troops in 2008.

Reuters

Last Mod: 25 Şubat 2010, 08:25
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