Thursday, February 11, 2010
Warship sale to Russia 'no threat to Nato'Premium
By Slobodan Lekic in Brussels CONCERN among former Soviet republics about France's sale of a modern assault ship to Russia were yesterday described as "understandable" by Nato. Nato members Estonia and Lithuania have expressed alarm at the sale of the 23,700-ton Mistral-class helicopter carrier to the Russian navy. But Nato spokesman James Appathurai said: "Secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen doesn't consider Russia a threat and he hopes Russia doesn't think of Nato as a threat. But the anxieties of some allies are real and are understandable for historical reasons and geographical reasons." France has agreed to sell Russia a single warship and is considering a request for three more that may be built in Russian shipyards. Each costs 500million (£440m). It is the first major sale of defence equipment to Russia by a Nato member. During the 2008 war with Georgia, Russian forces used the navy to support operations on the ground.