Latvia to Claim Nato’s Compensation for Mistral

Latvia is about to claim NATO’s compensation if Russia deploys French Mistral class helicopter carriers in the Baltic, reports Telegraph referring to Inga Salenietse, advisor to Latvian defense minister.

The head of Latvian defense ministry Artis Pabriks confirmed that information. As for him, if the Mistral sale changes security balance in the Baltic region, Latvia would insist on the compensation to recover the balance.

According to the minister, if Russian Mistrals appear in the Baltic, Latvia would appeal to France and NATO to receive appropriate military and political support. He did not specify what exactly Latvia wants to get in exchange, although pointed out that “such assistance must recover balance in regional forces posture”.

Latvia is NATO member since 2004. Riga expressed some concerns over France’s intentions to sell Mistrals to Russia. On the other hand, Latvian leadership mentioned that the sale would not affect the country’s national security. In particular, Latvian Armed Forces Commander Raimonds Graube said those ships unlikely posed a threat to Latvia. In his turn, foreign minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis declared the Mistral sale would not have any influence on NATO-Russia strategic equilibrium, reported DELFI.

Negotiations on Russia’s procurement of French Mistral class assault landing ships have been in progress since 2009. The contract for 2 ships was signed in St. Petersburg in June 2011. The agreement has an option for construction of other two Mistrals in Russia. Reportedly, France will hand over Mistral shipbuilding technology to Russia.

Displacement of Mistral class ship is 21,300 tons. The air wing may include up to 16 Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters or up to 12 NHI NH90 multipurpose helicopters. It is planned to equip Russian Mistrals with Ka-52 Alligator multirole attack helicopters. Mistral ship is capable to transport up to 60 armored personnel carriers or up to 450 marines (for short-range projection – up to 900 marines). The ship is armed with two SAM systems and two 30-mm automatic guns.

Russia is supposed to receive the first Mistral in 2014, the second one – in 2015. Reportedly, both of them will join Pacific Fleet and be stationed in Vladivostok.
Source: rusnavy, June 24, 2011;