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Macron sends a French intelligence-gathering vessel to the Black Sea to spy on Russia and Turkey

The Dupuy-de-Lôme is part of the observation satellite and reconnaissance aircraft operation with which Paris and NATO are putting pressure on Erdogan's government
President Macron wishes to have direct information on the major Russian military manoeuvres at the end of September and on the development of tension between Turkey and Greece, NATO and France itself

PHOTO/Clarisse Dupont-Marine Nationale  -   President Macron wishes to have direct information on the major Russian military manoeuvres at the end of September and on the development of tension between Turkey and Greece, NATO and France itself

The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, has ordered his only intelligence-gathering vessel to take up position in the Black Sea and to remain in international waters to intercept radio and electromagnetic emissions from the land, sea and air military forces from Russia and Turkey. The French navy ship Dupuy-de-Lôme set sail on Wednesday, September 9 from the Toulon Mediterranean naval base - 190 km from the Italian border -, crossed the Dardanelles/Bosphorus Strait on the night of Sunday, September 13, and is already in the area, where some 16 warships are sailing, including three discreet Russian attack submarines. 

Together with the French Air Force's spy satellites and reconnaissance aircraft, the Dupuy-de-Lôme is regularly deployed in geographical areas of crisis or strategic interest to France in order to monitor developments directly - and as closely as possible - and thereby obtain information and develop autonomous and independent intelligence from that acquired by other countries. There are three reasons for the presence of the spy ship Dupuy-de-Lôme in the waters of the Black Sea and in the proximity of Turkish territorial waters. On the one hand, Macron's desire to continue with the diplomatic pressure that Paris exerts on Ankara and strengthen France's military visibility in its serious disagreement with Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government over the oil prospecting that Turkey is carrying out in the Mediterranean area.  

Buque
PHOTO/Marine Nationale - The electronic listening ship Dupuy-de-Lôme is already in the Black Sea, along with 16 warships from different nations, including three discreet Russian submarines

Secondly, to express the Elysée's support for the Greek government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has just announced his intention to purchase a large batch of weapons systems from the French defence industry, including 18 Rafale fighter planes from the manufacturer Dassault and four frigates. 

The most important Russian military exercises in four years 

Another key to sending the ship into the tense area is to follow closely the major joint/combined military manoeuvres Kavkaz 2020 that Russia is going to conduct in the region from September 21 to 26. They will involve troops from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Iran, Myanmar and Pakistan under the command of the chief of staff of the Russian Federation's armed forces, Army General Valery Gerasimov. India has withdrawn from the multinational exercises owing to recent tensions with China on the border with Ladakh. 

Erdogan
PHOTO/AP - The powerful Turkish Navy incorporated the new 2,400-tonne Kinaliada F-514 corvette at the end of October, a ceremony attended by President Erdogan

According to the information provided by the Russian deputy defence minister, Colonel General Alexander Fomin, who last week brought together the foreign military attachés accredited in Moscow, the Kavkaz-2020 exercise is the "culmination of the four-year training cycle of the entire Russian Federation's armed forces". With the main aim of "assessing the capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces to ensure military security in the southwest of the country", around 80,000 military personnel from combat, air defence, logistic and technical support units will take part in Kavkaz 2020, together with personnel from the Russian Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters. 
 
The Russian deputy defence minister stressed that the maximum number of troops involved in the manoeuvres under a single operational command is subject to the Vienna Document 2011 and will not exceed 12,900 military, as well as the number of different weapons systems. According to Colonel General Alexander Fomin, the exercise will involve around 250 battle tanks, 450 infantry fighting vehicles and armoured vehicles of all kinds, 200 artillery pieces and rocket launchers, numerous combat aircraft and attack helicopters, as well as surface vessels and submarines from the Marines of the participating countries. 

Ministerio de Defensa ruso
PHOTO/Russian Federal Ministry of Defence - Russian Deputy Defence Minister, Colonel General Alexander Fomin, in the centre, explains some details of the multinational Kavkaz 2020 manoeuvres, the most important of the Russian Armed Forces in the last four years

A subject of particular interest to NATO and France is a test of a long-range missile to be fired from Russia between September 17 and 25. The impact will be in international waters to the east of Cyprus, where Moscow has defined a zone restricted to navigation. The aim of the Dupuy-de-Lôme is to collect as much data as possible on the trajectory and telemetry of the missile in order to ascertain its performance.  

A little known but regular spy in conflict zones

This is not the first time that France has deployed the Dupuy-de-Lôme in the Black Sea. It occurred on other occasions, such as during the Ukrainian conflict in July 2019 and also in April 2014. In the aforementioned year, it crossed the Dardanelles accompanied by the US Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook DDG-75, which belongs to the US missile defence system and was stationed at the Spanish Rota naval airbase at the time

Officially known as a Test and Measurement Vessel (BEM), it was the first French Navy ship specially designed for long-term electronic warfare missions. Built at the Dutch shipyard Royal Niestern Sanders and launched on March 27, 2004, the Dupuy-de-Lôme is not a combat ship. Unlike them, it is painted white and equipped with only one pair of 12.7-millimetre heavy machine-guns for self-defence. It has a small heliport at its stern for physical linkage to land. 

Maniobras Rusia
PHOTO/TASS - Some 250 tanks, 450 combat vehicles and armoured vehicles of all types, 200 artillery and rocket launchers and numerous combat aircraft and attack helicopters will take part in the Kavkaz 2020 exercise

Attached to the National Navy - the official name of the French Navy - but operationally assigned to the Directorate of Military Intelligence, it is equipped with the best and most refined technologies of French origin in terms of antennas, listening and interference sensors, emission analysis, radio direction finding, telemetry, listening, Communications Intelligence (COMINT) and radar signals (ELINT), all of which are regularly updated.  

Rafaele
PHOTO/Dassault Aviation - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has recently announced his intention to buy 18 Rafale fighter planes from French industry

Moving about 4,000 tons, with a length of 102 meters and autonomy for 30 days, the ship's steering systems are mostly automated. Thanks to this, the crew is reduced to only 30 sailors, who are accompanied by 80 technicians and operators of electronic warfare systems and intelligence analysts. The layout of the living spaces on board and the ergonomics of the work stations are specially adapted to facilitate the stay at sea of up to 240 days. The ship was named after naval engineer Henri Dupuy de Lôme (1816-1885) and is based in Brest on the Brittany coast, France's main military naval base in the Atlantic Ocean.