US lawmaker slams France-Russia warship deal
A top US lawmaker on Friday blasted France for agreeing to sell two warships to Russia saying Paris had ignored "the clear danger" the deal would pose to US and regional security.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, denounced the deal under which France will transfer sensitive military technology to Russia for the first time since World War II.
"It is deeply troubling that France, a NATO ally, has decided to ignore the clear danger of selling advanced warships to Russia even as Moscow is taking an increasingly hostile approach toward the US, its neighbors, and Europe itself," she said in a statement.
"Many of our allies in the region, such as Georgia and the Baltic states, have experienced cyber attacks, severe economic pressure, and even invasion by Russia," she added.
Russia signed the long-awaited contract worth over a billion euros ($1.4 billion) to buy two French warships on Friday despite alarm from its ex-Soviet neighbors and the United States.
The unprecedented deal comes after talks over the past two years bogged down over pricing and know-how issues.
In a statement entitled "French sale of assault ships to Russia threatens regional security," the Republican congresswoman said it was "a profound mistake to arm our opponents for profit or for the mirage of cooperation that never materializes."
She added the sale of sophisticated arms to Russia was also worrying due to Moscow's past military cooperation with "rogue regimes like Iran and Syria."
"The administration must strongly urge our NATO and EU allies to stop selling weapons systems to Russia that can be used against the interests of the US, Europe, and our many other allies," she added.
© 2011 AFP