PRESIDENT:BARACK OBAMA: TEL: (202) 456-1111, (202) 456-1414
SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ: TEL: (202) 224-4744, FAX: (202) 228-2197
CAPITOL SWITCHBOARD: (202) 224-3121, INTERNET: Thomas Library of Congress
Responding to intense international pressure, France suspended the delivery of two Mistral class aircraft carrier assault warships under contract to Russia. The announcement stopped short of cancelling the sale, suggesting that a change in Russia’s behavior and handling of the Ukraine crisis could pave the way for delivery at a later date.
I am proud to say that BAFL members were right there in front of the “international pressure” aggressively informing our government and Congress of the dangerous consequences on Russia’s coastal neighbors. BAFL was fighting the sale way before the contract between France and Russia was signed in 2011.
The halting of the delivery of the warships is a significant road block to Russia’s naval expansion program. Acquiring the warships would give a tremendous boost to Russia’s naval capabilities and\would provide Russia with a technology to eventually develop additional state-of-art aircraft carriers. It would have been preferable had France outright cancelled the sale. As it stands now, at some point Russia may still lay her hands on the two warships.
Control of the coastal countries on the Baltic and Black Seas is a strategic priority for Moscow. The versatile state-of-the-art Mistral amphibious aircraft assault ships would provide Russia with an offensive capability that she has never had before. It would surely make her the dominant power of the Baltic or Black Seas.
A Mistral class war ship can carrr and can simultaneously deploy, in half an hour, 700 combat equipped troops, 13 tanks, 70 armored vehicles and 16 heavy helicopters. It has a 150 person command and communications center. It is armed with anti-aircraft weapons and long range, rapid fire artillery. France has no guarantee how the ships will be used. Putin, his generals and admirals, have stated that they will use the ships as they feel is necessary.
Moscow has proclaimed its right to attack any of its neighbors whenever it can fabricate an excuse for doing so. Given Russia’s track record, it is clear that Putin is intent on subjugating, intimidating and occupying its former Soviet territories. And he plans to do it with the help of the French warships.
Putin wants not only to destroy the post-1989 European settlement, but he also wants to overturn the state boundaries, including those of the Baltic nations. So far, he has sought bases in Serbia, Montenegro, fermented conflicts in Moldova, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Georgia, as well as Nagomo-Karabakh. He has also annexed former provinces of Georgia, Crimea and is at war with Ukraine.
The Baltic countries have contributed robustly and bravely to the Alliance’s operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It is imperative that the United States and NATO stop the sale of the warships. There is a way to do this, provided that U.S. and NATO officials and politicians think outside the box. SELL THE WARSHIPS TO NATO NOT RUSSIA.
THE UNITED STATES SHOULD ASSUME LEADERSHIP AND PROPOSE TO NATO ALLIES TO COLLECTIVELY BUY THE MISTRAL WARSHIPS AND MAKE THEM COMMON ASSETS DEDICATED TO THE NATO RAPID RESPONSE FORCE.
Arming an adversary is not only a grave mistake, it is unbelievably stupid, especially in the case of Russia–a nation that is led by a lying, cunning and utterly amoral dictator. A dictator who views the NATO Alliance and European Union as enemies and openly laments the break up of the Soviet Union.
Acquisition of the Mistral warships will absolutely revolutionize the maritime component of the Alliance and directly enhance NATO’s operability within the Baltic and Black Seas. All 28 member nations could contribute naval and marine personnel to augment the warships’ crew, command and control staff and the marine detachment. If greater NATO naval integration is an operational goal, then the acquisition of the Mistral ships could be counted as a win-win situation for NATO.
At a time when many within Europe believe that these are the last days of NATO, purchasing the warships would have a powerful positive effect on NATO’s spirit and morale. It will also encourage the East European members to increase their budgets to NATO.
Furthermore, a NATO purchase of the Mistral ships would deliver an unmistakable and meaningful rebuke of Russia’s military adventurism in Ukraine. It would show Russians and other would be aggressors that military adventurism and aggression carry economic and military costs. And it would send the strongest signal yet that the days of political timidity to Russia’s aggressive attempts to establish a new European order are over.
Most of all the purchase would prevent a powerful military capability from falling into the hands of an assertive and belligerent Russia. It will bolster NATO’s capabilities and demonstrate political solidarity among NATO allies. Also, friends like Georgia and Ukraine would be relieved to see that the ships would not become a part of the Russian navy.
This would not be the first time NATO purchased and operated its own assets. NATO has purchased and operated the research ship NRV Alliance as well as the oceanographic tender CRV Leonardo. NATO also operates a fleet of E-3 airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft and a force of C-17 cargo aircraft, operated by multi-national crew members. The U.S. Navy has also experimented with mixed multi-national crews. Results have been satisfactory.
Germany has already taken a stance on arms deals with Russia. Berlin has suspended a contract to build a combat training facility for Russia worth around $120 million.
I AND THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS STRONGLY URGE YOU TO CONTACT THE PRESIDENT AND KEY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND ASK NATO TO BUY THE TWO WARSHIPS FROM FRANCE.
PERSONS TO CONTACT:
President Barack Obama: Tel.Comment and Message Center: (202) 456.-1111, (202) 457-1414
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee: Tel: (202)224-4744, Fax (202) 228-2197
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Ranking Member of Foreign Relations Committee European Affairs: Tel: (202) 22-4944, Fax(202-228-0566
Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Chairman Subcommittee on European Affairs: Tel: (202) 224-4041, Fax (202) 224-9750
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ranking Member Subcommittee on European Affairs: Tel: (202) 224- 5323, Fax: (202) 228-6965
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Member Foreign Relations Committee: Tel: (202) 224-2235, Fax (202) 228-0515.
Senator Benjamin Cardin Chairman, (D-MD). Subcommittee on European Affairs, Tel: (202) 224-4524, Fax: 224-1654
Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman Foreign Affairs Committee: Tel: (202) 235-4111, Fax: (202)226-0335
Representative Elliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member Foreign Affairs Committee, Tel: (202) 225-2464, Fax: (202) 225-5531
Representative John D. Shimkus (R-IL), Co-chairman Baltic Caucus, Tel: (202) 225-5271, Fax (202) 225-5880.
Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), Co-chairman Baltic Caucus, Tel: (202) 225-4176, Fax: (202) 225-5828
Secretary of State John Kerry, Tel: (703) 6992-7100, Fax (202) 647-3344
Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Do you want Russian Marines off Baltic shores or American Marines? It is up to. Thank you.
Sincerely, Valdis V.Pavlovskis
September 11, 2014