Lawmakers applaud French decision to place delivery of warships to Russia on hold

congressU.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Bill Keating (D-MA) applauded the decision by the French government today to place on hold the delivery of two amphibious assault warships to Russia.

Since May, the lawmakers have been urging President Obama to strongly oppose the sale andcompel our allies to adopt a NATO-wide policy to end defense sales and defense industrial cooperation with Russia, at a time when Russia is illegally annexing Crimea, sent in Russian troops and heavy weapons to fight against a democratically-elected government in Ukraine, and threatened to cut off natural gas supply to Ukraine and the rest of Europe, and while evidence is growing that Moscow provided separatist rebels in Eastern Ukraine with sophisticated antiaircraft weapons to shoot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

“Our NATO allies should not be rewarding Putin’s inexcusable behavior by providing him with assault ships and other advanced weaponry,” Sen. Warner said. “This is a good step by France, and I encourage the rest of our NATO allies to halt all defense cooperation and sales with Russia while this crisis is ongoing.”

“I applaud President Hollande’s decision to hold France’s delivery of Mistral ships, and I will continue to push for tough sanctions in order to significantly raise the costs for Russia’s illegal actions,” Senator Kirk said. “NATO allies have no business selling military equipment to Russia, as long as Putin completely disregards his obligations under the NATO-Russia Founding Act and continues his aggression against the people of Ukraine.”

“As Russia continues its destabilizing actions throughout Eastern Europe, the United States and our allies must ensure that we take every action to make the cost of aggression higher than anything President Putin hopes to achieve,” said Kinzinger. “I am glad to see France suspending this sale, and hope increasing isolation will spur a swift end to Russian hostilities in the region.”

“I applaud France’s decision to suspend the proposed delivery of the first Mistral-class amphibious assault ship to Russia and wholeheartedly agree with France’s assessment that Russian actions in Ukraine undermine security,” said Rep. Keating. “As a group of lawmakers against this sale from the start, Senator Warner, Senator Kirk, Congressman Kinzinger and I always understood the difficulty of this decision for France. Yet, this is the type of leadership that will bring about effective relief from Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine. I urge France to stay this course for as long as President Putin threatens regional security, and am encouraged by France’s decision today, particularly on the eve of the important NATO summit in Wales.”