Estonia frets over Russia buying warship

Nov. 22, 2009 at 4:57 PM
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TALLINN, Estonia, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Estonian officials said that if Russia buys a French amphibious assault ship, Estonia should consider taking security measures.

The Mistral-class helicopter carrier ship, for which the French are asking between $600 to $700 million, is scheduled to arrive Monday in St. Petersburg for the Russian navy and defense industry experts to inspect, RIA Novosti reported Sunday.

"If Russia obtains such a modern and effective warship, which can carry a tank battalion, take aboard several hundreds of people and faultlessly control (its) operations ... the possession of such an equipment will provide Russia with a considerable advantage, if it is deployed in the Baltic Sea," Eerik Niiles Kross, an Estonian security analyst, said.

Moscow plans to build another four helicopter carriers in Russia under French licensing, RIA Novosti said.

The Russian navy would deploy the warships for troop transport, peacekeeping and rescue missions, and the helicopter ship could be used for anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast, the newspaper said.

Russian shipbuilders oppose buying the helicopter carrier, and the government had not yet decided whether it will build expensive assault ships.

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