Has Tbilisi outgrown "Mistral"?17.06.2011 | 13:33
Moscow and Paris are close to signing a contract for the purchase of helicopter carriers "Mistral" now more than ever. The parties have already approved the draft document before final signing which must take place on 21 June, according to mass media. The Georgian party which criticized the coming transaction with such zeal last year has taken a pause so far: there is neither reproof nor accusations or appeals to the international community. The GeorgiaTimes correspondent spoke to the head of the Center of Military Forecasting of the Political and Military Analysis Institute Anatoly Tsyganok on the perspectives of "Mistral" in Russia and on the possible reaction of Tbilisi
Military Forecasting of the Political and Military Analysis Institute Anatoly Tsyganok on the perspectives of "Mistral" in Russia and on the possible reaction of Tbilisi.
The first news on the agreement of Russia and France with regard to the purchase of "Mistral" helicopter carriers by Moscow was heard at the end of May. Then the French leader Nicolas Sarkozy announced that Moscow and Paris would sign an agreement on the purchase of four vessels in the nearest future. "We have come to a final agreement on signing the contract in 15 days, - he said. - Two helicopter carriers will be built in France and two in Russia. All issues have been resolved".
In his turn, the Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev also confirmed that the parties have reached a consensus and the contract would be signed as soon as possible. "The negotiations are over. And this will help us in the development of our relationships", - added Medvedev.
The timeframes pronounced by Sarkozy have passed but Russia has no "Mistrals" so far. However, this week some mass media said that the parties had signed a protocol on their intention to sign a contract for the purchase of two vessels by the Russian party. According to an undisclosed source, the main problem of the negotiations was the contract price and, consequently, its content. "The delegations have arrived at a compromise which is evaluated as more than one billion euro but less than 1,2 billion", - he said.
Today tabloids are discussing the contract signing subject quite vividly and even mention a precise date: 21 June, because it is on this day that the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be present at the international air show in Le Bourget. And Georgia that used to be one of the main opponents of the transaction is strangely taciturn. Just a year ago, when the "Mistral" negotiations were far from the final point, official Tbilisi could not literally calm down.
First the Deputy Chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the republic Nino Kalandadze said that for the sake of "its own imperialistic aspirations" Russia may use any methods, including the new helicopter carriers. "These arms will fall into the hands of uncontrolled Russia that may violate the international law", noted Kalandadze, threatening Moscow with the absence of any perspectives of diplomatic relationships restoration.
Naturally, the complaints of the Georgian party never caught on with the international community. And could not do it by definition. Blowing a hype, Tbilisi just drew the attention to its own short sight. According to a truthful remark of the General Director of the National Strategy Council Valery Khomiakov, the contract between Russia and France is not so interesting for Europe and the United States. "They have quite different problems. And Saakashvili, in my opinion, still remains in 2008, - the expert said. - He might be thinking of the coming elections, trying to monopolize the electorate and lock it up with the image of an "external enemy".
However, the remonstrances of the representatives of Saakashvili's regime still received the expected support. The support of Mishiko's good friend, the Republican John McCain. "I am totally against France selling "Mistral" to Russia, - he said. - This ship is a threat to some of America's friends and NATO allies. I am worried about this decision that may create an unpleasant precedent inside the NATO to extend the volume of arms sales to the Russian government". However, the senator's arguments are beaten all to pieces by only one statement. The Russian army is not going to adhere to the NATO standards, so the purchase of the vessels from the French may become a single case.
Anyway, today Saakashvili should not be afraid of anything. Moreover, he should not try to pay the attention of the political circles of other countries. In his conversation with the GeorgiaTimes correspondent the famous Russian military expert Anatoly Tsyganok said that "Mistral" will not be used in the Black Sea. "I suppose this will be interesting for Georgia whose president says that Russia is buying the helicopter carriers for some "occupation" of his country, stressed Tsyganok. - The thing is that "Mistral" can act only in the North Sea or in the Pacific Ocean. So I think that now official Tbilisi will not protest any more against the transaction".