French Defense Minister Pledges Support in Estonian Skies, Emphasizes Ships for Russia Not Armed (6)
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Estonia today to discuss the situation in Ukraine with Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu and other officials, pledged additional support for air policing above the Baltics. But he said a specific French ship deal with Russia dated from a past administration and would be discussed in due time.
"France has heard the pleas from its allies and is prepared to reinforce airspace defense if such a decision is made. We are prepared to send four fighter planes from the French Air Force, showing that we are prepared to contribute to European security," said Le Drian.
In his comments, besides touching on NATO unity, Reinsalu called for an end to military cooperation with Russia, saying that included non-delivery of the Mistral-class vessels, which he said were assault ships.
The first question from the press was also about the Mistrals.
"I understand the question worries you, and inevitably comes up," said Le Drian, who said he had discussed it with Foreign Minister Urmas Paet. "The situation was already going on when we came into office. The 2011 agreement was already raising questions in Estonia before it was signed, when we came it was already signed. Second, France is building a ship that is unarmed and will be armed in Russia. Third, the decision must be made at the moment the ship is delivered, which is in October. The specific question will arise for us in October."