Australia’s decision to abandon the contract for the purchase of French submarines has called into question the reliability of relations between the United States and its European partners. While Australia set out to get American and British submarines in place of French ones in the near future, Paris withdrew its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington and warned of the long-term implications of the failure of the deal for the Transatlantic Partnership, demanding a review of NATO’s entire defense strategy. The rift between Western allies blaming each other for the crisis continues to widen. In this case, the main loser may not be France, but the United States: they have just abandoned Afghanistan to the mercy of fate and immediately again proved their readiness to step over allied relations for their own interests.
Canberra does not intend to postpone the decision to search for an alternative to them on the back burner after a sudden rejection of the “contract of the century” with the French company Naval Group for the purchase of 12 Barracuda-class attack submarines worth € 56 billion, the minister said in an interview with Sky News on Sunday. Defense of Australia Peter Dutton. Answering the question whether there are negotiations on the purchase or lease of operating American or British nuclear submarines for the country’s naval forces, the head of the Australian defense department said: “In short, yes. I have already met with a number of colleagues, including those who make such decisions. “
The scandal in relations with France, flaring up more and more, on Sunday commented on the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, who called on Paris to cast aside emotions and try to understand the validity of the decision of Canberra.
“Of course, this caused great disappointment to the French government, and I understand this disappointment. But at the same time, Australia, like any sovereign country, must make decisions that meet the interests of its national security, ”Prime Minister Morrison said at a briefing in Canberra. According to him, the technical characteristics of the French Barracuda-class attack submarines today no longer allow them to be considered as the weapon that Canberra needs, given the deteriorating security situation in the Indo-Pacific region every year.
At the same time, the decision to withdraw from the contract with the French company Naval Group was not spontaneous, but mat-ured for more than one ye-ar, and the French side kn-ew about Canberra’s intentions, therefore, it is simply inappropriate to talk about some kind of secret conspiracy of Western allies behind Paris’s back, said the Australian Prime Mini-ster … The version that the deal with the Naval Group allegedly became a victim of geopolitical intrigues was strongly rejected by Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton.
However, all attempts by the Australian side to rele-ase the scandal on the br-akes and explain to Paris t-heir rational choice in favor of American and British nuclear submarines had no effect. After Paris made an unprecedented diplomatic move last Friday by recalling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra, French officials have continued to make strong statements.
They warn that the scandal will have a long echo and the price of refusing the deal with the Naval Group will be high – both for the relations between the persons involved in the scandal and for the multilateral cooperation of allies in NATO as a whole.
In addition, the parties radically disagree in assessing the genesis of the scandal – French representatives insist that the decision to abandon French submarines was opaque, made secretly from Paris, in connection with which the great nuclear power, playing one of the leading roles in NATO and the EU, was humiliated and placed in the rank of a second-class country.
The passion was further fueled by an article published on Saturday in the British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph, which says that agreements behind the back of French President Macron were reached in June this year at the G7 summit in Cornwall, English, where Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also invited.
“I heard comments that we had discussions on submarines prior to the announcement of Australia. This is not true, ”French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated the version of Paris on the air of France 2. Accusing Canberra and Washington of“ lies and duplicity, ”he declared a deep and serious crisis in relations between the United States and France. And the French Ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thébaud, recalled for consultations, explained in more detail why the French side does not believe the explanations of the allies. “We have very reliable data that this was all being prepared over a period of 18 months,” Ambassador Tebo told the Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald.
In turn, the Secretary of State for European Affairs of the French Foreign Ministry, Clement Bon, speaking on the French parliamentary television channel Public Senat, urged to draw a conclusion from this story about how dismissive Washington treats its allies, following the principle of “America above all.”
“The US is acting in an unpleasant manner, not as partners, but we will not wait for Washington to change its course. For our part, we must act like Europeans. We must strengthen our capacity for strategic autonomy, ”said a senior French diplomat.
Confirmation that the rift that has split the leading NATO allies may affect the alliance itself was another statement by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, made on Sunday. “At the next NATO summit in Madrid, work will be done on a new strategic concept. Obviously, what happened will be related to its definition, ”said the French Foreign Minister.
In addition to relations between the United States and France, a scandal flares up in British-French relations.
The indignation of Paris, which calls London’s position “opportunistic”, was caused by the information that the former head of the British Foreign Office Dominic Raab was actively helping to prepare a “treacherous agreement” at the summit of the “Group of Seven” in Cornwall.
However, the new British Foreign Minister Elizabeth Truss tried to lay siege to Paris, stating that the creation of AUKUS – a triple alliance of the United States, Great Britain and Australia was dictated by security interests and France’s indignation was inappropriate.
“Freedoms need to be protected and therefore we are forging strong security ties around the world. This is why Prime Minister Johnson announced, along with our friends President Biden and Prime Minister Morrison, a new security partnership, ”said Ms Truss. “This demonstrates our commitment to unwaveringly defend our interests and challenge unfair practices and malicious acts,” she said.
Meanwhile, the main loser in this story may not be France, but the United States, which after Afghanistan has once again shown itself to be an unreliable ally. Apparently realizing that the scandal threatens to go too far and cause serious damage to relations within the Euro-Atlantic community, US President Joe Biden has already initiated urgent consultations with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“President Biden approached President Macron with a proposal to discuss the situation. The conversation will take place in the very next few days, “- said on Sunday the official representative of the French government Gabriel Attal on the air of the BFM TV channel.