Alert Internet followers of this subject – and it has its own dedicated community, both for and against – noticed almost immediately when the MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) assignment changed from “France” to “Russia”, and the resulting speculation was instantaneous and explosive.
The “for” community was jubilant but restrained, considering this is only the expected outcome – the contract was signed in completely legal circumstances, and in fact was once touted as Russia finally making the right moves, by breaking away from its practice of purchasing state-supplied, obsolescent-on-delivery, technically-outclassed junk. More recently, the issue has become a bone growled over by the United States, which sees forestalling the delivery as a badly-needed political victory for Obama and America, whose image as a dispassionate button-pusher who can make anything happen, anywhere has suffered many dents of late. For that reason, the “against” community was incandescent with fury.
For its part, DCNS (Direction des Constructions Navales), owner of the St-Nazaire yard which built VLADIVOSTOK, was quick to deny any significance in switching the French identifier for the Russian, announcing that it was simply a required step in the Airworthiness test. This is probably true, but it has done little to calm the passions of those who believe the ships Russia legally contracted for, fulfilling its part of the bargain in every respect, should be withheld to “teach Putin a lesson”, although the “evidence” of Russian “meddling” in Ukraine has thus far turned out to be fabricated to an increasingly ridiculous degree, so much so that the Ukrainian NSDC Council recently reported an advancing column of its own armor and artillery as Russian.
The U.S. State Department reportedly is grinding the French government under its thumb, pressuring it daily not to crack, and insisting it withhold delivery of the VLADIVOSTOK and its sister ship, and proposing wild alternatives such as NATO purchasing the ships for its own use. My, yes – that’d be a great deal for France, wouldn’t it? It could collect payment from NATO – maybe – in one hand and pay most of the money out with the other in return of advances from Russia and penalties for breach of contract. NATO would get two ships specifically designed for the Russian navy which would require extensive and expensive retrofitting to make them operable by NATO. I guess when you cling to the illusion that you have unlimited spending money – thanks to holding the world’s reserve fiat currency – your financial common sense turns to goo and seeps out your ear into your pillow while you are sleeping.
The whole farce is neatly encapsulated in a comedic piece at Yahoo, in which France’s Prime Minister squeaks pathetically that France “will not be dictated to” following Russia’s warning that it will claim compensation if France fails to complete delivery by the due date. Parody follows comedy as the article announces Moscow’s intent in asking for the merchandise it contracted and paid for is to “drive a wedge between Paris and its allies”, and that it does this knowing France’s failure to deliver the ships could damage its reputation. For shame, Moskali!!
Yes, Moscow should have a care for France’s image – after all, France has always been a stalwart guarantor of Russia’s image in the past. Turnabout is just fair play, and careful is as careful does. Insert favourite Forrest Gumpism here.
After signing a contract in which it presumably, as the supplier, factored in all time requirements to take the initial vessel from concept to reality and agreed upon a realistic delivery date – after it is crystal clear that the contracted-for vessel is complete to the last rivet and cable tie and that it is only outside influence from the American State Department (fast shaping up as a villain for the ages) that prevents the completion of the transaction and that its reasons for so doing are purely political and based on fabricated evidence – France now feels it is hard done by because its customer demands it fulfill its part of the bargain. To what a degraded and debauched system of values has the west come round in the end; one wonders how much lower we can sink. And how far away rock bottom might lie.