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Baltics concerned over French-Russian arms deal

  • 2009-12-14
  • Oskars Magone

The Baltics and Georgia are worried about the improved military capacity that the warship will give Russia (Photo by Rama)

RIGA - All three Baltic states have now expressed concerns over a prospective arms deal that would see France sell Russian a high-technology warship - drastically upgrading the country's aging navy.

Russia is reported considering the purchase of a Mistral class warship - capable of carrying up to 900 troops in addition to tanks and as many as 35 light helicopters - for approximately$700 milllion.

Estonia was the first Baltic state to express its concern over the deal, saying that if it went through then the country would have to considera new security strategy. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said late last month he would press France of the details of the deal.

"We will ask France for information about the deal and the matter will be also be discussed at the EU's working group on strategic goods," he said. He said that he wanted to know if the warship would be sold “with or without top military technology”.

Lithuania later also pledged to look into the details of the deal. AFP reported that Lithuanian foreign ministry spokesman Rolandas Kacinskas planned to find out “exactly what kind of equipment it plans to sell and what it can be used for”.

Latvia has now also added its voice to the concerns surrounding the deal.

"Senior Defense Ministry officials have already warned that if Russia buys the vessel and deploys it in the Baltic Sea, Latvia may have to review its current defense strategy in the face of a new threat to national security," Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported the Latvian Defense Ministry as saying on Dec. 14.