(Washington) The US government on Friday gave the green light to sell four potential frigates to Greece, competing with Paris that in September struck a pre-agreement on the sale of three French frigates to the Greek Navy.
While French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reached an agreement at the end of September to supply Greece with three defense and intervention frigates worth about $4.31 billion, the Foreign Ministry announced in a press release that it had previously approved plans to sell four combat frigates and their equipment to Athens worth $6.9 billion.
Less than three months after the agreement reached between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom blew up a massive French submarine contract for the Australian Navy, causing an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Washington and Paris, the Joe Biden administration is once again trying to blow up an exciting defense contract for France.
Washington also agreed to modernize Greek MEKO-class frigates, for an estimated $2.5 billion.
The statement stated that the contract, in both cases, “will be awarded to the winner of an international tender” for the modernization of the Greek navy.
In accordance with the Franco-Greek agreement, announced with great fanfare on September 28 in Paris, three defense and intervention frigates (called Belharra for export) will be built in France by Naval Group, in Lorient (Morbihan), for delivery to the Greek Navy in 2025 and 2026 .
The previous agreement also covered an optional fourth frigate. The contract must be signed “by the end of the year”, then determined by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces.
In addition to ships, it includes the supply of weapons to the missile manufacturer MBDA (Aster anti-aircraft missiles, Exocet anti-ship missiles and torpedoes) and support services over a period of three years.
In September, the United States announced an Indo-Pacific security partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom, including the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra. Therefore, Australia stopped a huge contract signed with France for the delivery of conventional submarines, which angered Paris.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced the “blow in the back”, likening Joe Biden’s style to “what his predecessor, Donald Trump, was doing – an insult to a Democratic president eager to stand out from the Republican billionaire.”
France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia, and Biden admitted that the United States could have communicated better with its old ally.
At the end of October in Rome, Mr. Biden tried to turn the page on Australian submarines during a reconciliation meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The two heads of state had announced their intention to launch a “strategic dialogue on military trade”, particularly on export permits.
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