U.S. senators urge France to cancel Russia arms deal
The six U.S. senators are also urging their own government to suspend agreements with the Russian defense contractor Rosoboronexport
Six U.S. senators appealed in a letter on Thursday to France’s President Francois Hollande to cancel the delivery of two French warships to the Russian navy, urging him to take a unified stand against Moscow’s aggression, a U.S.-based news website reported.
The senators called on Hollande to demonstrate that “our nations will not be complicit in altering borders by force,” Defense One quoted them as saying in their appeal, in reference to Russia’s annexing part of eastern Ukraine.
“These military warships are designed explicitly for the type of invasion that occurred in the Ukraine,” the senators said in their letter.
They added: “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.”
Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and giving support to pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the eastern European country has “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,” the senators said.
While the senators “fully appreciate that canceling such contracts may have consequences,” they also said that they “[urge] our own government to suspend its agreements with the Russian defense contractor Rosoboronexport.”
According to Defense One, 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.”
Meanwhile, ahead of his Thursday visit to France, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview that Moscow never annexed Crimea and has no plans to intervene in Ukraine.
“It’s a delusion that Russian troops annexed Crimea. Russian troops did nothing of the kind,” told the private French channel, TF1 TV.
While stating that Russia’s troops helped Crimeans hold a referendum to join the Russian Federation, he said the troops “were in Crimea under an international treaty on the deployment of the Russian military base.”
Australia invites Putin to G20
While Putin was banned from this week’s Group of Seven meeting in Paris, he still met with Hollande over dinner.
Russia was axed from the G7 meeting in Brussels because it annexed Crimea, with Putin cold-shouldered by the United States and its allies since the March seizure of the peninsula.
However, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he expects Putin to attend the G20 summit this year in Brisbane, Agence France-Presse reported.
Australia is the current holder of the rotating G20 presidency and hosts the leaders’ summit in Brisbane in November.
Abbott said that while he shared serious concerns over Russia's role in Ukraine, there was no indication Putin would not be invited.