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Cablegate: French Mistral Sale to Russia Raised at Nato

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PP RUEHDBU RUEHSL
DE RUEHNO #0067 0431005
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121005Z FEB 10
FM USMISSION USNATO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3862
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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RUEHNO/USDELMC BRUSSELS BE
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L USNATO 000067

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR NATO FR RS
SUBJECT: FRENCH MISTRAL SALE TO RUSSIA RAISED AT NATO

Classified By: Ambassador Ivo Daalder for reasons 1.4 (b/d).

1. (C) Lithuania's NATO PermRep Linkevicius raised France's
potential sale to Russia of a Mistral class ship during a
February 9 PermReps' lunch, noting that the sale was not
simply a national issue but a subject for discussion within
the Alliance. French PermRep Andreani did not respond.
However, the following day, the February 10 NAC meeting,
Andreani made a point of highlighting France's commitment to
Baltic security by reporting that France had been
participating since January 4 in Baltic air policing. She
cited this as evidence of France's commitment to the
collective defense of the Baltics. The French Political
Counselor told us afterward that he was waiting for guidance
from Paris on the Mistral sale as the French Mission here had
not previously been involved in this issue. On February 11,
Estonian PermRep Luik complained about the sale over lunch
with Ambassador Daalder, noting that inclusion of Allied
equipment could trigger third county transfer rules - in
particular the case of Canadian technology.

2. (U) NATO Spokesman James Appathurai was asked about the
sale during a February 10 press conference, in light of
Russia's newly released military doctrine that identifies
NATO enlargement as a key threat. Appathurai noted that,
while Secretary-General Rasmussen recognized the concerns of
some Allies over the sale were real and understandable for
historic and geographic reasons, Rasmussen had told Russian
Foreign Minister Lavrov that he did not view Russia as a
threat and hoped Russians did not see NATO as a threat.

3. (C) Comment: The Mistral sale had not been a topic of
debate at NATO prior to the Lithuanian-French exchange.
Several Allies have been reluctant to raise an Ally's
bilateral arms sales at NATO, even if they preferred that
France not sell the ship to Russia. In the past, discussion
of bilateral arms sales have traditionally not been seen as
an appropriate topic at NATO. Given the significance of the
potential Mistral sale and broader discussions on reassurance
and NATO's relations with Russia, the Mistral may be viewed
as an exception in light of some Allies' concerns regarding
Russia's military capabilities and intentions, and possible
third party transfer rules. End Comment.
DAALDER

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