Mistral-class helicopter landing craft – Photo: AFP
The contract to build 12 conventional submarines between France and Australia collapsed after Australia joined hands with the US and UK to create a new security cooperation mechanism called AUKUS on September 16.
Under this framework, Australia will build at least eight nuclear submarines and abandon plans to buy conventional submarines.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed disappointment, saying that breaking the contract had weakened France’s trust with Australia and the US.
Mr Le Drian also said he was “angry” at the current situation, calling it “a knife in the back of France”, arguing that allies should not behave like this.
According to Russia’s Tass news agency, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova was surprised by Le Drian’s statements.
“Where does the anger and bitterness come from? Breaking the contract for France seems to be commonplace. In 2015, Paris canceled an agreement to sell Moscow two Mistral-class helicopter landing ships,” Ms. Zakharova said. recalling the old story on Telegram channel with nearly 53,000 followers.
Russia and France closed a contract worth 1.2 billion euros to build two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships in June 2011, with the first expected to be delivered in November 2014.
However, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent Western sanctions, France decided to cancel the contract with Russia in 2015.
Two Mistral ships were later sold to Egypt and France also accepted to return Russia nearly 950 million euros, according to Tass.
The creation of AUKUS angered France in part because it lost a contract to build submarines worth more than $40 billion, according to Reuters news agency.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tried to assuage Paris’ frustration and described France as still an important US partner in the Indo-Pacific. According to Blinken, the US side has been in constant communication with France, both before and after AUKUS was announced on September 16.
However, an unnamed French official revealed that the Americans had not informed Paris and that French officials only knew about the incident through the media.