Congress Urges Action to Stop French Sale of Warships to Putin

AP

A bipartisan group of congressmen has called on NATO to stop the sale of advanced warships to Vladimir Putin's Russia by purchasing the ships for the NATO alliance's collective use.

The letter to the secretary general of NATO urges the decision as a way to "collectively confront the unacceptable actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government."

France currently is contracted to sell two advanced Mistral-class amphibious assault and helicopter carrier warships to Russia, a sale that the letter describes as "unthinkable." The solution proposed in the letter is that NATO "purchase or lease the warships as a common naval asset."

"Such a decisive move by NATO is not without precedent and would show President Putin that our rhetorical resolve is matched by our actual resolve and that this Alliance will not tolerate or abet his dangerous actions in Europe," the letter states.

It explains that France is also being urged to back out of the deal, but that the possibility of a sale of warships to Russia as they continue to act as aggressors in regions across the globe cannot be risked.

The bipartisan group is led by ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) and chairman of the U.S. Delegation to NATO Parliamentary Assembly Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio).

"Just weeks ago, a Russian spy plane violated NATO airspace for the first time since the end of the Cold War," said Turner in a statement. "As Putin continues his efforts to intimidate our allies and destabilize the region, our NATO Alliance must demonstrate its resolve in the face of this aggressor state. We must ensure Putin is incapable of procuring these highly sophisticated assault ships and instead, take this opportunity to bolster our own capabilities."