WASHINGTON, DC—After months of urging world leaders to stop the sale of two French-built Mistral class warships to Russia, Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today welcomed the announcement by the French government that the delivery of the first ship will not go forward. According to a statement from the Office of French President Francois Hollande, “conditions under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place.”
“As NATO leaders gather in Wales, this decision by the French government sends a strong signal that western democracies are standing shoulder-to-shoulder against President Putin’s aggression. With Russia continuing to foment a crisis in Eastern Europe, we need to keep advanced equipment like the Mistrals out of Putin’s hands,” said Rep. Engel. “This was a tough choice for France. NATO can lighten that burden and at the same time enhance the Alliance’s capabilities by leasing or purchasing these warships.”
Throughout months of Russian aggression in Ukraine, Rep. Engel has led the effort in Congress to stop the sale of the Mistral-class warships to Russia. In May, Rep. Engel wrote to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, calling on NATO to purchase or lease the warships as an alternative to the sale to Russia. In July, Rep. Engel encouraged President Obama to spearhead an international effort to put a stop to the sale.
The Mistral-class ships represent the state of the art in amphibious assault. More than 200 yards in length, they each can carry 700 troops, 60 armored vehicles, four landing craft, and 16 helicopters.