Russia has no need to use French warships, Mistral, which it plans to buy, against Georgia, Russian PM Vladimir Putin said ahead of his visit to France.
“I hope events will never again lead to military conflict between Russia and Georgia, never. We have been doing everything previously and are intending to do everything for preventing reoccurrence of this tragedy. Modern offensive systems make it possible to carry out any military operation deep into the entire territory of Georgia from the Russian territory and no Mistral is needed for that,” Putin said in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) and France 2 television.
“[Mistral] is an offensive weapon. Has France such helicopter carriers [Mistrals] in its armament? Yes, it has. Whom is France going to attack? No one. Why do people automatically assume that Russia will of course have to use this to attack someone? If you mean – and let’s put it bluntly – for example, our Georgian neighbors… Georgia has a huge land border with Russia. As a result of a criminal action, which was launched by President Saakashvili two years ago, people have died. And Russia had to defend the lives of its peacekeepers and citizens of South Ossetia. And, as it is known, Russia had, I want to stress it, to use its armed forces for defensive purposes,” the Russian PM said.
“We have stopped [Russian army’s advance] 20-15 kilometers from Tbilisi, and not because we could not enter Tbilisi, but because we did not want it. We did not want any hostilities at all. Just that is why our peacekeepers were staying there,” he said.