Poland warns France on warship deal with Russia

29th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Poland on Monday said a possible French deal to supply Russia with warships was making it difficult for Warsaw to choose French suppliers for its planned missile shield.

"I can't hide the fact that the Mistral (warship contract) is not helping us make positive decisions" about French missile shield suppliers, Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said in an interview published in the Rzeczpospolita daily.

France said earlier this month that it had suspended the delivery of two warships to Russia in a 1.2-billion euro ($1.6-billion) deal amid widespread criticism by NATO allies worried by Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis.

French President Francois Hollande then said he would decide in October whether or not to nix the lucrative deal.

"We are critical of this transaction. Nobody has ever hidden this fact from our French partners," Siemoniak said.

"I don't want to play the role of someone setting conditions for France. I am confident that France will make a wise and responsible decision, knowing that it is a NATO member and knowing the opinions of other allies."

Poland in June chose French arms giant Thales and its US rival Raytheon as the final two bidders in a tender for its new missile shield system, worth an estimated 5.8 billion euros over 10 years.

Thales and Franco-Italian missile maker MBDA have partnered with Poland's Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa PGZ defence consortium in the bidding, while Raytheon is offering its Patriot-type missiles.

Poland has earmarked 33.6 billion euros to upgrade its military equipment over a decade, including acquiring the missile shield, armoured personnel carriers, submarines and drones.

Amid the escalation of the conflict in neighbouring Ukraine, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski proposed raising defence spending to 2.0 percent of GDP, from the current 1.95.

Poland joined NATO in 1999, a decade after shedding communism. The nation of 38 million people acceded to the European Union in 2004.


© 2014 AFP

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