Russia's Mistral purchase could make Georgia safer
Many observers have fretted about France's proposed sale of Mistral ships to Russia, pointing in particular to a statement by Russia's naval chief that with the Mistral, Russia's victory over Georgia could have been accomplished in 40 minutes rather than 26 hours.
But Dmitry Gorenburg, at Russian Military Reform, points out that Russia's military superiority over Georgia was never an issue. What is an issue (for those worried about Russia's actions rather than Georgia's) is the level of Russia's willingness to alienate the West by attacking countries like Georgia. And when you think in those terms, the Mistral sale would likely make conflict between Russia and the West less, rather than more, likely:
Some analysts fear that Russia could use equipment purchased from NATO, such as the Mistral ships, to attack its neighbors. The 2008 Georgia war showed that even without NATO equipment the Russian military is plenty strong enough to defeat a small and weak army of the kind that just about all of its immediate neighbors possess. Western arms sales are not necessary for Russia to be able to successfully undertake hostile action against a country like Georgia. But again, if NATO arms sales to Russia become ubiquitous, Russia may well become more hesitant to undertake actions that could potentially result in the cut-off of such arms sales. In other words, Western leverage over Russian actions will actually increase.