Mistral Conundrum Leaves France’s Hollande Navigating Competing Interests

Russian sailors stand next to the Vladivostok warship in the port of Saint-Nazaire, western France, Sept. 5, 2014 (AP photo by David Vincent).
Russian sailors stand next to the Vladivostok warship in the port of Saint-Nazaire, western France, Sept. 5, 2014 (AP photo by David Vincent).
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On Sept. 3, France announced that it would suspend the delivery to Russia of the Vladivostok, a multipurpose amphibious warship of the Mistral class, until at least late October, and that the delivery would take place only if the situation in Ukraine improved. The move comes after months of acrimony among France’s European Union and NATO allies over the sale, which French President Francois Hollande was loathe to cancel due to the economic implications of forfeiting the $1.6 billion contract. Hollande inherited the Mistral problem from his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, who entertained good personal relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. […]

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