… from Press TV, Tehran
[ Editor’s Note: Could the Mistral saga finally be over, not just for the first one, but the second to boot? I had made a mental note when France said they could not return them due to all the NATO equipment on board; that Putin said Russia wanted to “approve any buyer”, the unsaid being he did not want the ships used by an anti-Russian country.
So Egypt looks like a suitable home for these ships now, due to its growing relations with Russia. But I am curious where the money came from, plus the fact that these kinds of ships are sitting ducks in a shooting war and would be sunk on the first day. Was Sisi thinking of beach landings in Libya maybe?
If these turn out to be an expensive “static” defense expenditure, where the ships just remain in port most of the time, they are a questionable deal. So I suspect that Putin might be subsidizing the purchase, and we will see these ships patrolling in the future in joint anti-piracy and rescue operations with the Russian boats.
I don’t have any Intel to support it. It just seems like the only sensible justification for a broke Egypt to be able to get involved with these. Maybe they were built into the nuclear power plants deal that the Russians will be building for Egypt. Russia will get to spend most of the returned money on more updated ships for better use in the Arctic… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … September 23, 2015 –
The French government says it is to sell two Mistral warships, which were originally intended for Russia, to Egypt. According to a statement released by the French presidency on Wednesday, President Francois Hollande and his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, “have agreed on the principle and terms and conditions of Egypt’s acquisition of the two Mistral-class vessels.”
The assault ships are capable of carrying 16 helicopter gunships, 700 troops and as many as 50 armored vehicles and were ordered by Russia in 2011.
However, the 1.2-billion-euro (USD 1.3-billion) deal between Paris and Moscow fell apart over the crisis in Ukraine as France along with its western allies accused Russia of having a hand in the eastern Ukraine conflict, an accusation that Kremlin categorically rejects.
France finally agreed in August to return some 950 million euros (USD 1 billion) already paid by Russia following eight months of intense negotiations.
It is not clear how much Egypt is due to pay for the warships, but French government spokesman, Stephane Le Foll, said no money would be lost in the new deal.
The Mistral warships are the second big military deal between Paris and Cairo in 2015 as the North African country has already bought 24 advanced fighter jets from France for 5.2 billion euros (USD 5.9 billion).
Amnesty International, however, condemned the decision to sell the jets to Egypt over its “alarming” human rights abuses.
The former army chief and current president, Sisi, has been engaged in a massive crackdown on protesters over the past two years, killing hundreds of political activists, mostly affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. Many others have died inside detention facilities while the judiciary has sentenced hundreds more to death.