Protesters Outside French Embassy Demonstrate Against Sale of Mistrals to Russia
The French Embassy in Tallinn was the venue for the latest in a spate of recent demonstrations in the ordinarily retiring Estonian capital. Protesters took the NATO heavyweight to task for its reluctance to end arms trade with Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Attendance at today's afternoon demonstration, organized by IRL, one of two parties in the outgoing Cabinet, was estimated at 50-100. Senior politicians there included MEP Tunne Kelam and Agriculture Minister Helir-Valdor Seeder.
Kelam accused France of behaving "duplicitously" in selling warships - Mistral amphibious assault vessels - and of undermining EU solidarity.
"It's regrettable that while the European Union condemns the Russian occupation of Ukraine, France is preparing to deliver modern warships. France is positioning itself on the same side of the playing field as the aggressor," Kelam told uudised.err.ee, saying the delivery of the vessels would have a "devastating effect" on trust and core values in the EU.
The first ship, the Vladivostok, is due to be delivered in November. The deal, worth over a billion euros, was signed in 2011 and was controversial even at the time. The ships are classed as aircraft carriers, as they can carry up to 16 helicopters as well as four landing vessels and 70 armored vehicles.