From Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Hill : Last month, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Washington, administration officials had a golden opportunity to confront the French leader about his nation’s proposed sale of advanced amphibious warships to Russia. This sale threatens to shake the NATO alliance to its core, bolstering Russia’s offensive military capabilities as it intensifies its campaign of intimidation against neighboring countries.
Regrettably, not only did the administration fail to take a strong, public stand in opposition to this sale but, reportedly, the national security advisor did not raise the issue with his counterparts and suggested in an interview that the sale was in line with the administration’s outreach and overtures to Russia.
It is therefore up to the Congress to use all available means to impress upon the French government the potentially disastrous consequences of this sale and urge it to reconsider. Russia’s menacing policies have already victimized some of our NATO allies. France must not enable Russia to do the same to others. …
Confronting President Sarkozy on his proposed weapons sales to Russia would have been a good first step toward addressing the problems facing the NATO alliance. But Congress can still fill the void left by the administration. First, we can adopt legislation, which I authored, stating our unequivocal opposition to France’s Mistral sale and all other sales of major weapons systems to Russia by NATO allies. Another resolution I authored would underscore America’s commitment to NATO and European security by urging the president to bolster missile defense in Europe.
The U.S. can no longer stand idly by and ignore cracks in this vital alliance.
Ros-Lehtinen is the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. (photo: Office of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen)