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  • Medvedev-Sarkozy Honeymoon: At What Price?

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev

    Russian President Dmitri Medvedev arrived in Paris on Monday for a three-day visit and to launch a new strategic partnership with France. The new Franco-Russian embrace is marked by major arms sales, a space deal, lucrative energy contracts and greater market access—all under the banner of a blossoming personal relationship between President Nicolas Sarkozy and Medvedev. But the blossoming Franco-Russian friendship appears poised to come at the expense of European security.

    We’ve been to this show before. The historical connection between France and Russia dates back before World War I.  France and Russia consummated an alliance in 1894. This was a military pact, based on mutual protection guarantees, and aimed against the rising Germany. It did not survive World War I, nor did the 1935 Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance. This time, Paris is playing catch-up with Germany for a privileged relationship with Moscow.

    Seemingly oblivious to NATO members’ objections and Russia’s continued violation of the August 2008 ceasefire agreement in George (brokered by President Sarkozy), Paris is moving ahead with the sale of four Mistral-class assault ships to Russia. The Mistral is one of the most advanced helicopter carriers in the world and would be a formidable power projection tool for Russia. Building two Mistrals under the license in Russia will also boost the Russian industrial capabilities. This dynamic should concern the U.S. as well as Europe.

    In addition to arms sales, the two leaders presided over the signing of an important accord between Gaz de France Suez and Gazprom. GDF will acquire a nine percent stake in the Nord Stream gas pipeline, and in exchange, Gazprom will provide France with up to an additional 1.5 billion meters of gas annually from 2015. This follows a close pattern in Russia’s diplomatic playbook: Moscow grants selective access to Russian energy resources as a reward for political cooperation—and often times lobbying on behalf of the Kremlin.

    The two countries are also venturing into space: France will spend about $1 billion to buy 14 Soyuz carrier rockets from Russia. The new deal marks another step in cooperation between Russia and France in the space sector after Arianespace signed a contact with Russia’s space agency in 2008 for the launch of 10 Russian Soyuz-ST rockets.

    There may be an internal Russian political angle to the visit as well. Medvedev may be jealous of his mentor and ex-boss Russian Premier Vladimir Putin in pursuing a close relationship with Sarkozy. Putin has strong ties with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and was close to the German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac when the two were in office. Until now, personal relationships and lucrative business deals were reserved to Putin. The trajectory of Medvedev’s and Sarkozy’s friendship appears to be a new dynamic which signals Medvedev’s “coming of age.”

    One can only hope that Sarkozy will use his leverage to counter dismemberment of Georgia and promote the rule of law. Paris would also be wise to remember that its gains from a Franco-Russian business ties should not come at the expense of European security. Unfortunately, judging from Paris’s business-better-than-usual approach, the future for Russia’s expand clout in Europe never looked better.

    C0-authored by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy and Owen B. Graham, Research Assistant at the Katherine and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Medvedev-Sarkozy Honeymoon: At What Price?

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    3. Roamn says:

      "dismemberment of Georgia" and what about dismemberment of Yugoslavia, dismemberment of Serbia or wars in Iraq and Afganistan. I hate these double standards of USA!

    4. Jean Russia says:

      An article for nothing. What is the message???

    5. Pavel, Russia says:

      An article for nothing. Ariel Cohen, you are arrogant untalented man.

      "expense Europe security"?

      The USA expenses Europe security by their wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afhganistan. Millions die as result of American fears to struggle with drugs in Afghanistan not only in Russian but in the whole Europe.

      The history of Russian relationships with Europe is longer than history of the USA. About what security you are talking about… crazy world policeman.

      Russia saved Abkhazia and Ossetia. The USA has to be responsible for this war. Bush supplied a lot of weapon to Saakashvili. Obviously, NATO specialists known about attacking Ossetians because they were in Georgian military headquarters but they didn't do anything.

    6. Alex Rhode Island says:

      It seems that somebody is jealous :)) Russia and France are building deep partnership. As more dependent the countries are, the safety in Europe will grow. Saakashvili and Georgia is not an issue, european commission already investigated that he started the war from bombardment of the city of Tshinvali, he is just a mad looser. The cold war already finished and that is visible in policy of Germany and France, they want to get closer with Russia. Small nations like Estonia and Georgia will always complain about russian bear, that is a good business for them, getting money and attention from us. Thanks to that complains we still remember what is Estonia and where it is located on the map :)))

    7. Pavel, Russia says:

      Eh, heritage you only can delete comments with truth.

      An article is none.

      Standard poem about America is the Saviour of the world = the world policeman.

    8. Bohdan, NYC says:

      Again, boys will be boys and politicians will always pursue personal benefits.. h o w e v e r.. kudos to Ariel for pointing out that we must always look at history to check with whom we are truly dealing…

    9. Texas says:

      Ahh…it's good to see the Cold Warriors at Heritage still hanging onto the past. Jealous much?

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