Monday, February 08, 2010
Informant Follow-up: French Confirm Warship Sale To Russia
Over and over again, NATO, read Washington and its tag-along European 'allies", repeat the same boilerplate: the alliance is not Russia's enemy, and therefore any of its military maneuvers and plans should not spark suspicion in the Kremlin. So Moscow's purchase of a state-of-the-art warship from NATO member France shouldn't raise anyone's blood pressure inside the military pact, right? Afterall, NATO and Russia are friends. Yeah, right.
After months of negotiations, and probable behind-the-scenes arm twisting from Washington and former Warsaw Pact leaders, Paris announced Feb. 8 that they will be selling the Russians one jumbo-size Mistral warship. Plus, Paris announced it may sell the Russians three more!
The Informant has covered this story before. You can find details of what this ship can do here.
The ship carries a price tag of up to 500 million euros. Quite a bit of coin.
Russia has been eager to get its hands on the ship's high-tech as Russia Today reports.
Maybe as a sign the sale has been cleared by the big boss in Washington or a slap in the face, take your pick, France's Defense Minister Herve Morin was jawing with his U.S. counterpart, Robert Gates, when the French announcement on the sale was uncorked.
Morin and Gates had what the U.S. military chief described as "a good and thorough exchange of views."
Later, the Pentagon explained that Gates had "made our concerns clear" during his meeting with Morin.
Morin reminded his NATO allies about what they bloviate all the time: the Cold War is over, and Russia is not the enemy.
Gates also met with President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the 'sale' again got aired.
Sarkozy apparently made some ridiculous remark about Russia being a partner to the West.
"One cannot expect Russia to behave as a partner if we don't treat it as one," the official, who declined to be named, quoted Sarkozy as telling the U.S. defense secretary.
This may sound logical, but the French don't get how the game is played.
Partnership means that NATO has the luxury to pursue whatever course of action as determined predominantly by Washington, which afterall provides most of the military hardware, men, and, as always, SACEUR, (the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe). It is for Moscow to accomodate itself to these plans. If it does, in Western group think, Moscow is cooperating, if it does not, Moscow is being "obstructionist."
This is so ingrained, that NATO officials can't see the truth, not that they would even if they could. Their jobs depend on maintaining the values of the institution, and the institution that is NATO has its genesis in the Cold War when the enemy was the Warsaw Pact.
The geo-strategic equation has changed, but NATO still exists, expanding its membership and scope of mission, as absurd as that may seem to any outside observer.
It was just a few days ago when NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen scratched his head over Russia's new military doctrine, which identifies U.S. missile shield plans as a concern and NATO expansion as a threat to Russia.
This, as Romania announced it was on board with revamped U.S. military plans for its military shield.
Rasmussen said to Reuters, quote, "NATO is not an enemy of Russia."
This the same Rasmussen who gave short shrift, if any shrift, to a new Russian blueprint for European security during a Moscow visit in December.
There was little Western newspaper ink spilled on this one.
That's to be expected.
Washington, along with its timid European allies, and accomplices in the think tanks, academia, and the ever shrinking newsrooms, will do all it can to make sure the current set-up, under which it holds most of the cards of power, remains intact.
Former EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, (who at one time held Mr. Rasmussen's NATO post) spelled it out.
The Russian proposal could be considered only if it upheld "the role of the U.S. in European security."
There it is in a nutshell.
Throw a biscuit to Mr. Solana.