The Kremlin Temptation

France’s recent sale of four powerful Mistral-class warships to Russia has evoked comparisons with Germany's go-it-alone strategy toward the Kremlin. Indeed, European leaders may ultimately be doing the same thing, but they are all doing it separately, as competitors vying for Russian favor rather than as partners within a supposedly tight-knit Union.

PARIS – What is the significance of France’s recent sale of four powerful Mistral-class warships to Russia? Was it business as usual or an irresponsible move contributing to a dangerous shift in the balance of power in the Baltic and Black Seas?

It is sometimes said that Germany has become a “second France” in its “selfish” approach to the European Union. But is France really on its way to becoming a “second Germany”? If Germany is Russia’s main economic partner, why should not France be its principal strategic partner?

France does not share Germany’s natural closeness to Russia – a relationship based on both geography and history. But France does have a long tradition of a “special” bilateral relationship with Russia – marked by a deep cultural dimension – that somehow transcended the Cold War.

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