A study of the Russian acquisition of the French Mistral amphibious assault warships
Baker, Patrick T.
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In 2009, Moscow opened negotiations with Paris to purchase the Mistral class amphibious assault ship. In December 2010, Russia indicated that it was prepared to move forward with an agreement to buy two Mistral class warships, with the option of building two more jointly at a Russian shipyard. Neither Russia, nor the Soviet Union ever possessed a vessel with the capabilities of the Mistral class. An amphibious assault ship would be a new addition to the Soviet/Russian naval arsenal. The fact that Russia must turn to foreign suppliers to modernize its fleet capabilities indicates that Russia's domestic arms industry lacks the capability to produce a range of modern warships. The Mistral is the first significant arms sale of a major NATO power (France) to a country that some still see as a threat. For this reason, the sale has raised fears among the smaller NATO members, who charge that Paris has brushed aside their security concerns for national and economic reasons. This thesis argues that the Mistral sale is driven by Russia's need to acquire modern command and control and shipbuilding technologies, rather than increase its amphibious assault capabilities per se.
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