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Of French Mistrals to Russia, US Urges Restraint on Sale, Of Mayotte Analogy

By Matthew Russell Lee

WASHINGTON, March 14 -- Amid talk of "costs" for Russia if the Crimea referendum goes forward as scheduled on Sunday, a sample deal shows Russia's leverage: France's sale of Mistral warships to Russia.

Inner City Press asked US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf on March 14 about the deal, about a pending UN Security Council resolution and an analogy raised earlier in the day by Russian foreign minister Lavrov: the French-run referendum that split Mayotte off from the Comoros.

  On the Mistral sale, Harf replied that ""Decisions about these kind of sales are obviously a matter for each sovereign state... We would hope that any country would exercise judgment and restraint when it comes to transferring military equipment that could exacerbate tensions in any conflict region.. That certainly applies here." Video here, from Minute 18:34.

  Hart said she would check if the US has discussed the Mistral sale with France.

   From the State Department transcript:

Inner City Press: on Ukraine, one question thatís come up is, in terms of sanctions is France has this big deal where itís selling Mistral warships to Russia, and itís said that itís going forward. What does the United States think of that sale of military hardware?

MS. HARF: Well, decisions about these kind of sales are obviously a matter for each sovereign state to take into account including a host of factors Ė obviously, international law, regional stability. We would hope that any country would exercise judgment and restraint when it comes to transferring military equipment that could exacerbate tensions in any conflict region. In general, I think that certainly applies here.

 
  French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who like his Permanent Representative to the UN Gerard Araud has declined comment on the Mistral sale, has said he may travel to Russia on March 18.

On the Mayotte analogy, Harf said "In general, it's very clear under Ukraine's constitution how this legally could take place... a countrywide referendum. She said of "any comparisons, they just don't have relevancy here."

  Inner City Press also asked Harf about South Sudan: Riek Machar's rejection of the proposed deployments of regional forces by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and of the Salva Kiir government's information minister saying that broadcasting interviews with rebels in South Sudan would be illegal.

  Harf noted that she had begun the briefing with a statement condemning crackdowns on the press in Russia, and that would apply here. But would it? Watch this site.


 

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