Senators Urge French to Scrap Warship Sales to Russia

Letter says, “Our nations will not be complicit in altering borders by force.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
National Journal
Billy House
June 5, 2014, 7:06 a.m.

Six U.S. sen­at­ors are ur­ging French Pres­id­ent Fran­cois Hol­lande to can­cel de­liv­ery of two French war­ships to the Rus­si­an navy, in a let­ter on Thursday ap­peal­ing for a uni­fied stand against Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin’s ag­gres­sion.

The bi­par­tis­an group wants Hol­lande to demon­strate, “Our na­tions will not be com­pli­cit in al­ter­ing bor­ders by force.”

The let­ter was sent by Demo­crat­ic Sens. Chris Murphy of Con­necti­c­ut; Dick Durbin of Illinois, the ma­jor­ity whip; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hamp­shire; Amy Klobuchar of Min­nesota; and Ed­ward Mar­key of Mas­sachu­setts. Sen. Ron John­son of Wis­con­sin, a Re­pub­lic­an, also signed the let­ter.

On Wed­nes­day, The Wall Street Journ­al re­por­ted that France is ready to de­liv­er the war­ships and is pre­par­ing to train hun­dreds of Rus­si­an sea­men to op­er­ate a them this month, de­fy­ing calls from the U.S. and oth­er coun­tries to keep the ves­sels out of the Krem­lin’s hands.

And Putin is an­ti­cip­at­ing more arms deals with the French. “We ex­pect our French part­ners to ful­fill their con­trac­tu­al ob­lig­a­tions, and if everything goes as we agreed, we will not rule out the pos­sib­il­ity of fur­ther or­ders — and not ne­ces­sar­ily in nav­al ship­build­ing,” he told a Rus­si­an news­pa­per.

But in their let­ter Thursday, the six sen­at­ors wrote, “These mil­it­ary war­ships are de­signed ex­pli­citly for the type of in­va­sion that oc­curred in the Ukraine.” The also ar­gue, “Any fur­ther arms sales from the French gov­ern­ment to the Rus­si­an mil­it­ary would en­hance Rus­sia’s power pro­jec­tion, abil­ity to in­tim­id­ate neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, and il­leg­ally seize sov­er­eign ter­rit­ory.”

The sen­at­ors do note that they “fully ap­pre­ci­ate that can­celing such con­tracts may have con­sequences,” but they also point out that, sim­il­arly, “we are ur­ging our own gov­ern­ment to sus­pend its agree­ments with the Rus­si­an de­fense con­tract­or Rosobor­on­ex­port.”

In fact, law­makers like Murphy have cham­pioned le­gis­la­tion to scrap Pentagon com­mit­ments to pur­chase items such as MI-17 trans­port heli­copters for the Afghan army from that same Rus­si­an com­pany, al­though such ef­forts pred­ate the events in Ukraine and Crimea. Par­ti­al­ity to home-state heli­copter man­u­fac­tur­ers has played a small role in those ef­forts.

But Rus­sia’s ac­tions, the sen­at­ors say, have “chal­lenged the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity to take a prin­cipled stand against those who wish to dis­rupt the in­ter­na­tion­al rule of law and the rights of sov­er­eign na­tions.”

What We're Following See More »
Wasserman Schultz Won’t Gavel Open the Convention
2 hours ago

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.

Sanders Supporters Boo When He Mentions Clinton-Kaine
2 hours ago

Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

FBI Investigating DNC Hack
3 hours ago

The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."

Sanders Delegates Threaten to Challenge Kaine Pick
3 hours ago

A group of delegates loyal to Bernie Sanders is actively exploring how to challenge Tim Kaine's nomination for the vice presidency. A lead of the group "said he hoped the Democratic National Committee releases information within hours on how to submit a challenger to Kaine, which he said would require the signatures of 300 delegates. He said they have until Wednesday morning to file a challenge to Kaine and stressed that while his group would take any requests from the Sanders campaign under consideration, the delegate group is an independent organization."

A Three-Way Race in Utah?
3 hours ago

Here are some more numbers out of Utah that should frighten Donald Trump—and give hope to Gary Johnson. "An internal poll conducted for Rep. Mia Love two weeks ago found Trump at 29 percent, Clinton at 27 percent" and Libertarian candidate Johnson at 26 percent. "That was, however, before Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence." Utah party chairman James Evans said that move ought to clinch the state for Trump. "Utahns are going to come through because the level of distaste for Hillary is so deep," he said.