‘Russian Navy is Back’: French Lawmaker Impressed by Fleet Day in Sevastopol

The Black Sea Fleet servicemen during the final rehearsal of the naval parade to mark Russian Navy Day in Sevastopol


The parade held in Sevastopol on the occasion of the national Navy Day spotlighted Russia’s recovering naval capacities, Nicolas Dhuicq, member of the French parliamentary delegation currently visiting Crimea, told Sputnik on Sunday.

SEVASTOPOL — Over 20 warships, 10 support vessels and around 30 pieces of the Black Sea Fleet coastal forces’ equipment performed during the parade to commemorate the victories of Russian sailors.

“During Vladimir Putin‘s presidency, there was an increase in military spendings, so we see today that the Russian Navy is back. The are only a few oceanic navies in the world: the French, the British and the Russian,” Dhuicq said, adding that he was impressed by the new Admiral Grigorovich frigate demonstrated at the parade.

According to the French lawmaker, the parade highlighted the role of the Navy in the Russian people’s history, especially for Crimea.

“A parade was quite big and popular event that showed a special link between the Russian population and the Russian Navy because everyone remember bravery of Navy forces during the World War II, specially, in the Black Sea and Crimea,” Dhuicq said.

The Russian Navy Day is annually celebrated on the last Sunday of July. This year, the holiday marked several milestone events in Russia’s naval history, including the 320-year anniversary of the national Navy to be celebrated on October 30.

Crash Sheds Light on Secret French, US, UK Military Meddling in Middle East

French soldiers of the Barkhane operation stand near the border with Lybia in Madama on January 1, 2015


By confirming the death of its three servicemen in Libya, France has admitted the presence of its special forces on the ground in the country; earlier the Pentagon also confirmed its presence on the ground in Syria. Chris Nineham from the Stop the War Coalition says that the majority of such operations are carried out without any UN authorization.

On Wednesday French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll confirmed the deaths of three French soldiers who were on an intelligence-gathering mission in Libya and died in a helicopter crash near Benghazi, thus admitting the presence of its special forces on the ground in the North African country.”The special forces are there, of course, to help ensure that France is present everywhere in the fight against terrorists,” Le Foll explained in an interview with the radio station France Info.

Reports suggest that following the Daesh takeover of Libya’s coastal city of Sirte in late 2015, the United Kingdom and Italy have also sent special forces to Libya.

The Government of National Accord (GNA), Libya’s internationally-recognized ruling coalition, condemned the French intervention in a statement released on Wednesday evening, demanding an explanation from Paris and saying that it would not compromise on Libyan sovereignty.

The statement posted on the government’s Facebook page said that “nothing justifies an intervention without our knowledge and without it being coordinated with us.”

“The Presidential Council expresses its deep discontent at the French presence in eastern Libya without coordination with the Council, which was declared by the government of France,” it stated.The Benghazi Defense Brigades, the militant group that claimed responsibility for the downing of the helicopter, said 13 of its fighters were killed in what it described as French retaliatory airstrikes in western Benghazi. France denied that its warplanes over Libya were used for any missions but reconnaissance.

US and French special forces are reportedly operating in the country, but the reports have not been officially confirmed until now.

The Middle East Eye (MEE), an online news portal which covers the events in the Middle East, has obtained air traffic control recordings which suggest that British, French, Italian and US forces have been coordinating air strikes in support of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, head of the armed forces based in Libya’s east.

The commander, however, doesn’t officially serve the UN-recognized government and is in no position to seek military aid from foreign powers.

The leaked tapes appear to confirm earlier reports suggesting the existence of an international operations center that is helping General Khalifa Haftar in his campaign to gain control of eastern Libya from groups he has declared to be “extremists.”

Earlier in May, the Pentagon confirmed that one service member, probably a special operations soldier, was hit by “indirect fire” such as a rocket or mortar strike while operating north of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Daesh’s self-proclaimed Islamic State.Another soldier was also hit by indirect fire outside Irbil, a city in the Iraqi region of Kurdistan.

The announcement came as the first official recognition of a US service member being wounded in Syria. However, according to publicly available data from the Pentagon, there have been 14 service members wounded in Iraq and Syria since the start of the US-led mission there in 2014.

The problem with such clandestine interventions is that they often disregard the law and have no public oversight, Stop the War Coalition’s Chris Nineham told RT.

“They are not backed by the UN, these interventions. They are not checked anywhere. They are just unilateral acts of military aggression,” he added.

Chris Nineham earlier also commented on the UK’s participation in the US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria when it was revealed after a freedom of information request by the campaign group Reprieve that around 20 British military personnel have been embedded within coalition forces in the country.

The coalition then claimed that Syria has consequently “turned out to be David Cameron’s secret war.”

Chris Nineham reiterated these concerns, and condemned “the historical instinct to dominate the Middle East which Cameron, Michael Fallon and others plainly demonstrate,” according to a statement on the Coalition’s website.

Meanwhile Pentagon keeps reiterating that its service members were not “engaged in active combat” and were behind the lines operating in advisory roles when they came under fire.

India Set to Miss Another Promise Over Rafale Fighter Jet Deal

A Rafale fighter jet


India’s deal with France to purchase Rafale fighter planes is taking more time than expected as the two sides have yet to reconcile their differences over a number of issues related to the deal.

NEW DELHI     Manohar Parrikar, India’s Defense Minister, says “the negotiations are underway and the inter-government agreement and offset contract are yet to be finalized.

The details, including a transfer of technology through offsets, will emerge after the negotiations are completed.”

Replying to a query over the Rafale deal, Manohar Parrikar informed parliamentarians that the parties to the deal will decide whether or not the fighter jets are manufactured locally once negotiations are completed.

However, Parrikar clarified that the Rafale aircraft being procured will have advanced features like active electronically scanned array radar systems, the capacity for mid-air refueling and advanced electronic warfare equipment as part of their design.

Last week, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the top decision-making body within India’s Defense Ministry, rejected France’s offer to sell 36 Rafale fighters for 8.49 bln USD. Sources say the DAC is seeking a further price reduction. Recently, France also proposed that it would assist India in reviving the unsuccessful Kaveri gas turbine jet engine project and a host of other projects including the manufacturing of fighter jet components, but it would take a final call only after the contract for procurement of Rafale jets was formally signed. According to sources, India has involed the French Embassy in order to expedite the negotiations, which remain mired amid many issues.On January 26, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting French President Francois Hollande suggested in a joint statement that negotiations for the purchase of 36 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft were nearly complete. Later, Manohar Parrikar, India’s Minister of Defense, set a deadline of June 2016 for the deal. However, the deal still hasn’t been announced.

France Puts Off India by Proposing New Conditions for Rafale Deal

French Rafale fighter aircrafts come back aboard the French Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, after flights on November 23, 2015 at eastern Mediterranean sea, as part of operation Chammal in Syria and Irak against the Islamic State group


Inter-government talks between India and France on the purchase of Rafale fighter planes have hit another major roadblock as France has reportedly proposed an arrangement that India is most likely to reject outright.

NEW DELHI             Highly placed sources in India’s Defense Ministry have confirmed that France has been exerting undue pressure on India to seal the Rafale fighter aircraft deal without finalizing the mandatory offset contracts. The offset clause of India’s Defense Procurement Policy (DPP) mandates that foreign vendors spend a portion of the deal’s amount on projects within India.France has proposed that it would assist India in reviving the unsuccessful Kaveri gas turbine jet engine project and a host of other projects including the manufacturing of fighter jet components, but it would take a final call only after the contract for the procurement of Rafale jets is formally signed.

Expert has view that India’s revised Defense Procurement Policy (DPP) has no room for such an arrangement.

Amit Cowshish, former finance advisor to the Ministry of Defense, says, “Defense Procurement Policy doesn’t support this proposal. According to the Indian defense policy, the Rafale deal contract as well as offsets contract ought to be signed at the same time. If the Ministry of Defense took this deal as exceptional, only then is it possible; but under the set procedure this is not possible.”

The offset policy is a mandatory provision which requires foreign vendors to invest a portion of the deal’s amount in India. The rationale behind the provision is to encourage foreign companies to invest in research and development, which would eventually make India self-dependent in defense equipment manufacturing. The French are willing to invest 50% of the deal’s amount, out of which 30% will be invested in the military aerospace research & development program.Sources from the Ministry of Defense say that France’s new condition has further complicated the deal, which had already been held back due to its many hiccups. To date, not a single major issue has been resolved between the negotiators. Apart from offset projects, the Ministry of Defense has yet to respond to the Ministry of Law’s objection over inter-governmental agreement for the Rafale deal.

On January 26 this year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting French President Francois Hollande had suggested in a joint statement that negotiation for the purchase of 36 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft was near completion. Later, Manohar Parrikar, India’s Minister of Defense set a June 2016 deadline for the deal. However, the deal was not announced in June. Moreover, soures confirm that negotiators have not met for over a month now.

India Proposes France Disposes: France Rejects Bank Guarantee for Rafale

French Rafale fighter aircrafts come back aboard the French Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, after flights on November 23, 2015 at eastern Mediterranean sea, as part of operation Chammal in Syria and Irak against the Islamic State group


France has rejected the offer of a bank guarantee and is now waiting for further communication from India.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – The ongoing Rafale saga seems to be in the doldrums once more, as whatever India has proposed so far it has been disposed of by the French government. France has also rejected a bank guarantee for the deal.

Dassault Aviation initially offered to sell 36 Rafale fighter aircraft for around 10.5 billion euros but the Indian government has asked for a 30 percent discount. The issue over the price has so far proved to be a sticking point in the deal.

Now in a fresh move to clear the stalled Rafale deal, the French government has offered a new price and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has written a letter to Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar regarding the deal. According to the defense ministry sources, France has now offered to sell 36 fighters for 7.8 billion euros which is around 7 percent less than the original price offered by Dassault Aviation.

But according to Defense Ministry sources, the Indian government has found the latest offer quite different from the earlier one as it contained product support only for five years instead of ten years envisaged in the earlier agreement. Additionally, the latest offer also ignores the cost of setting up infrastructure at two airbases for two Rafale squadrons.According to the Defense Ministry sources, the Indian government considers it has nothing to gain from the latest French offer, where price has been slashed at the cost of product support which is an essential component of the Rafale deal.

India is also concerned that the French government has rejected India’s request for a bank guarantee for the deal.

The Rafale deal is unlikely to be resolved in the near future as France will go into election mode soon and the deal will take a back seat.


Hope for Stripped Ships: Egypt’s French Mistrals to Get Russian Equipment

French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship moored near Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment in St. Petersburg


Russia and Egyprt has reached great progress as a result of negotiatons on the delivery of radio and electronic equipment for the Mistral-class helicopter carriers obtained by the Egyptian Navy.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Serious progress has been made in talks between Russia and Egypt on the preparation and delivery of radio and electronic equipment for the Mistral-class helicopter carriers obtained by the Egyptian Navy after France canceled the deliveries to Moscow, a spokesman from Rostec’s United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation said Monday.

“Negotiations are continuing with Egypt on the delivery of radio-electronic equipment for the Mistral helicopter carriers. It’s already completely clear that the equipment stripped from the Mistral that was meant for the Russian Navy will not be delivered to Egypt…The possibility of preparing a different set of equipment especially for Egypt is currently under discussion,” the spokesman told journalists.

He said that it was premature to talk about the results of the negotiations, but said the Egyptian side “is showing great interest.”In October 2015, Cairo and Paris signed a contract paving the way for Egypt’s purchase of two Mistral helicopter carriers originally built for Russia, after France officially terminated the 1.2-billion-euro (some $1.28 billion at current exchange rates) deal with Moscow.


French Defense Minister Wants to Ask Russia to Boost Anti-Daesh Operations

Tu-22 strategic bombers of Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces set to hit Daesh targets in Syria


French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that he would ask Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to intensify activities against the Islamic State (IS, or Daesh in Arabic) militant group.

    On Monday, Le Drian is expected to visit Moscow to discuss anti-terrorist cooperation with Russian leadership.

“We will have an exchange [of views] on what we consider to be terrorist groups, and how Russia could strengthen its activities against our only enemy — Daesh,” Le Drian said, as quoted by the French Ouest-France newspaper.

Le Drian and Shoigu are also expected to discuss the exchange of information on Daesh fighters from France and Russia.

Russia and France are interested in intensifying their cooperation against the terrorist group after it took responsibility for the deadly terror attacks in Paris on November 13 as well as for the October 31 Russian A321 plane crash over Egypt.Moscow has been carrying out precision airstrikes against Daesh, outlawed in Russia, in Syria since September 30, at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Paris has been bombing Daesh positions as part of US-led coalition of some 60 nations in both Syria and Iraq.


Russia, France to Maintain Military Contacts on Anti-Daesh Operations

Flight deck crew work on Rafale fighter jets aboard the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle before its departure from the naval base of Toulon, France, November 18, 2015


Sergei Lavrov said that contacts between the militaries of Russia and France on operations against Daesh in Syria will be maintained.

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) – Contacts between the militaries of Russia and France on operations against the Islamic State (ISIL) group (also known as Daesh) in Syria will be maintained, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“With regard to our contacts on the military line, they are ongoing, at the level of Chiefs of Staff, at a different level. We have contacts with France, in the coming days another contact between the militaries is planned,” Lavrov said at a press conference in New York.

Russia has been carrying out pinpoint airstrikes against Daesh targets in Syria since late September 2015, at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

France is part of a US-led coalition of over 60 countries that has been carrying out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since September 2014.

Russia agreed to intensify military and intelligence contact with France during a visit by French President Francois Hollande to Moscow on November 26.

Hollande’s visit took place in the aftermath of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people and injured over 350. Daesh, a jihadist group banned in a range of countries, including Russia, claimed responsibility for the attacks.


Russian, French Military Chiefs Discuss Cooperation in Fight Against Daesh

Chief of Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov has discussed cooperation in the fight against Islamic State (ISIL, also known as Daesh) with his French counterpart General Pierre de Villiers, the Russian Defense Ministry informs.


Chief of Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov has discussed cooperation in the fight against Islamic State (ISIL, also known as Daesh) with his French counterpart General Pierre de Villiers, the Russian Defense Ministry informs.

Chief of Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov has discussed cooperation in the fight against Islamic State (ISIL, also known as Daesh) with his French counterpart General Pierre de Villiers, the Russian Defense Ministry informs.The telephone talks took place on Wednesday, at the initiative of the French side, the ministry said in a statement released on its website.

“In the course of the telephone conversation an exchange of opinions took place on the situation and future cooperation perspectives in the fight against the terrorist group ISIL [ISIL] in Syria,” the statement said, adding that Gerasimov and de Villiers agreed to maintain contact.

France is part of an international US-led coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria since September 2014. Paris intensified its air attacks after Daesh, prohibited in many countries including Russia, claimed responsibility for the November 13 terror acts that left over 100 people dead in Paris.

Russia has been conducting airstrikes against Daesh in Syria since September 2015, at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

French President Francois Hollande and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to coordinate their anti-terrorism efforts last week, during the French leader’s visit to Moscow.


Aerospace Force’s mission in Syria more effective than American – press secretary

Dmitry Peskov also said that the Russian and French military have been discussing already an action plan for Syria

Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov

Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov

© Anna Isakova/press-service of the State Duma of the Russian Federation/TASS

VLADIVOSTOK, November 28. /TASS/. The mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria is more effective in quality than the U.S. mission, Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the Vesti V Subbotu (News on Saturday) television programme.

“The territory, controlled by terrorists is shrinking (over the time of the Russian mission),” he said. “This proves the mission is qualitatively different. It is more effective. Those are not conclusions of political analysts, but the reality, which may be announced.”

He called an “undeniable fact” result of the U.S.-led coalition’s actions, which had been in Iraq and in Syria for 15 months.

“Unfortunately, that mission, which lasted for over a year, has resulted in bigger territories controlled by IS (Islamic State),” he said. “It is for the first time now, thanks to the mission of the Russian Aerospace Force, which is not that long yet, the tendency has changed radically”.

Russian, French military discuss action plan in Syria

The Russian and French military have been discussing already an action plan for Syria, though it is too early yet to announce the coalition is ready to cooperate, said Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov.

The Russian side keeps the door open for any cooperation acceptable for the U.S.-led coalition, he said, adding “as yet, we cannot see, say, mutual readiness.”

He continued saying some countries had chosen to leave now the “pressing position” demanding an immediate resignation of Bashar Assad.

“Now that most Syrian territory is controlled by IS, Nusra and other terrorist organisations, it seems unrealistic to organise whatever elections,” the press secretary said. “Nor realistic are talks about a political settlement. The only force on the ground, which is fighting terrorism, is the Syrian Armed Forces”.

Russia is adamant about territory integrity of Middle East countries

Russia is for territory and political integrity of the Middle East countries, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told.

“You know, it is a very sensitive region, and thus inarguable provision is to remain – the territory and political integrity of all the countries in the region: both Syria, and Turkey, and Iraq,” he said. “Otherwise, the consequences may be catastrophic for the region, which actually neighbours our borders.”

The anchorman said about various political and ethnic groups acting in the region, including, for example, the Kurdish militia.

“The Kurdish militia, well, in fact they are fighting most effectively both in northern Iraq, and fighting effectively the Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia),” Peskov said. “They are a more realistic force in fighting IS than the ephemeral Free Syrian Army.”

The presidential press secretary preferred to leave unanswered a question from the anchorman whether Russia should intensify contacts with the Kurds.

“Here, I have said everything I could,” Peskov replied.