It’s been about 18 months since Russia invaded the small Caucasus nation of Georgia, a move which shocked the world and sparked fears that Ukraine, another pro-Western ally in Moscow’s backyard, could be next.
Those fears have subsided since, but should the Kremlin decide to attack one of its neighbors again, it may be able to do so with state-of-the-art warships it wants to buy from France. And while relations between Moscow and Kyiv look brighter since the more Eastern-looking President Victor Yanukovych took power on Feb. 25, other post-Soviet states bullied by Russia for their Western integration efforts have already sounded the alarm bell.
Although the deal for Russia’s purchase of four Mistral-class helicopter and tank carriers has yet to be finalized, analysts say the Kremlin desperately needs to modernize its navy, and the Black Sea is a good place to project its new power. The sale is reportedly valued at $2 billion.