If you’ve been losing sleep over the fate of France’s two hapless, orphaned Mistral warships, then you needn’t fret any longer: Egypt has been confirmed as the buyer of the ships originally constructed for Russia. President François Hollande and President Abdel Fattah el Sisi “have agreed on the principle and terms and conditions of Egypt’s acquisition of the two Mistral-class vessels,” the office of the French presidency said in a recent statement.
France had abandoned a deal to sell the two Mistral warships to Russia due to tensions over the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine. Now a new deal for the ships, though preliminary, is finally more reality than rumor. France is at the brink of resolving what has indeed become a strange and dramatic arms sale saga.
The deal with Cairo was struck quite quickly, which is fortunate for France. Their agreement with Moscow over reimbursement was finalized a month and a half ago. Discussion about Egypt as a serious buyer for one or both warships seemed to begin in earnest last week.
“From the French perspective, whatever they can do to get out of the situation as quickly as possible is a good thing for them,” remarked Yannick Quéau, director general of Open Source Intelligence on Politics, a French think tank.