US pressure on French banks ‘blackmail’ over warship sale, Putin says
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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he sees the fine imposed on French bank BNP Paribas in the US as Washington’s attempt to “blackmail” Paris to prevent the controversial sale of warships to Russia.
"This does not concern us directly but what they are doing to French banks right now – this causes nothing but indignation in Europe and here," Putin told ambassadors in a key foreign policy speech.
His comments come after France’s biggest bank, BNP Paribas, on Monday pleaded guilty to US criminal charges of violating sanctions on Iran and Sudan for eight years. BNP Paribas was fined a record $8.9 billion.
France has vowed to stick by a 1.2 billion euro contract to build two Mistral warships for the Russian navy despite US objections to the project.
"We know of the pressure that our American partners are putting on France so that they don't send the Mistrals to Russia," Putin said.
"And we know they hinted that if they don't send the Mistrals to Russia then sanctions will be slowly lifted from the banks, or reduced to a minimum. What is that if not blackmail?"
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)