France: Helicopters to Georgia, Helicopter Carriers to Russia
Forget about the dangers of France selling Russia high-end helicopter carriers. It is apparently the French plans to sell Georgia two helicopters that pose a real threat to regional security, claims one member of the Russian Defense Ministry's Public Council.
The French company Eurocopter plans to sell two of it Super Puma helicopters (a series with both military and civilian versions) to Georgia, a roughly $30 million sale that could run the risk of Russian sanctions against the firm, warned Igor Korotchenko, head of the recently formed Center for the Analysis of World Military Trade. In the wake of its 2008 war with Georgia, Moscow called for an international ban on selling arms to Tbilisi and vowed to punish embargo breakers. Korotchenko reminded Eurocopter that Russia is a VIP client and Georgia is not worth risking Russian sales.
Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze called the warnings a bluff. The Georgian government claims that the helicopters will be used for high-altitude emergency operations and to carry tourists into the mountains.
By contrast, the French-made Mistral helicopter carrier in Russia's shopping bag is capable of transporting 16 attack helicopters, dozens of armored vehicles and around 450 soldiers. Russian Navy commander Vladimir Vysotsky claimed that the carriers would have allowed Russia to complete its 2008 war with Georgia within "40 minutes."