From the Georgian Daily: “In providing Putin with the tools for rapid invasion of Georgia, Crimea and the Baltic countries,” writes French philosopher André Glucksmann in Le Monde, “Our message is clear: go ahead!”

Such geopolitical autism—or cynicism—will tear at the fabric of NATO just as the alliance searches for common ground in Afghanistan and drafts a new Strategic Concept. With Russian Mistrals plying the waters of the Black and Baltic Seas, some NATO allies will call for enhanced NATO planning and presence in those regions. All NATO navies will be asked to contribute scarce resources—to counter a capability provided by another NATO ally.

The sale of Mistral would be the biggest ever NATO country military supply to Russia, providing it with a significant capability against which the alliance would have to plan for years to come. Moreover, should Russia employ the Mistrals in the Baltic or Black Seas, France will be complicit, opening a fissure within NATO of historic proportions…

Consequently, Franco-Russian negotiations over sale of Mistral class ships must capture the attention of every NATO nation. Allies should call for formal consultation under Article IV of the North Atlantic Treaty, which any NATO member is entitled to do if “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.” (photo: Reuters)