Pasachoff will be in Tel Aviv to view the eclipse, and since partial eclipses are usually not very scientifically useful, he is looking forward to just enjoying the eclipse instead of scrambling to set up various scientific equipment.
The French reaction to the announcement was jubilant, with a banner on the Elysee's web site reading “France's naval industry has won!” — but the deal, worth up to $1.3 billion, has been greeted with apprehension by some smaller ex-Soviet states.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene on Monday criticized the decision to sell “extremely complex offensive weaponry to a third party, a country where the level of democracy is not one we can feel safe about,” she said, Reuters reported. “It's a big mistake.”
The Mistral-type amphibious assault ships can carry up to 16 helicopters, of which six can be on deck at any one time, and 450 troops for up to six months. For shorter periods that number rises to 700. The vessels also carry landing barges and hovercraft, allowing vehicles, tanks and soldiers to be quickly transferred ashore.
These capabilities will enhance Russia's control of its coastal regions and its striking power in conflicts like the war the Kremlin fought with Georgia in 2008.