French President Puts Delivery of First Mistral Warship to Russia on Hold
14:52 25.11.2014(updated 15:40 25.11.2014)
The president of France believes that the current situation in eastern Ukraine does not allow the transfer of the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia, a statement by the French government reads.
PARIS, November 25 (Sputnik) – French President Francois Hollande has postponed the delivery of the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia because of the situation in Ukraine, a French government statement said Tuesday.
"The president of the [French] Republic believes the current situation in eastern Ukraine does not allow the transfer of the first Mistral to Russia. He believes it is necessary to postpone the issue of allowing the transfer of the first Mistral to Russia until another [presidential] order is given," the statement reads.
Earlier on Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius wrote on his Twitter account that the conditions for the delivery of the Mistral-class ships to Russia were not met.
Russia and France signed a $1.6 billion deal for two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. The vessels, capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 70 armored vehicles and 450 troops, are expected to join Russia's Pacific Fleet.
The deal, however, has been at risk since the conflict in Ukraine started to escalate. The West, blaming Moscow for its alleged aggressive policy toward Ukraine has introduced several rounds of sanctions on Russia. In October, French President Francois Hollande threatened to suspend the deliveries of the ships to Russia.
The handover of the first ship, the Vladivostok, was scheduled for November 14, but did not take place. Russia has condemned France's failure to deliver on its contractual obligations, saying Paris would have to pay a large penalty if the deal was canceled.
Earlier in November Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said that Russia would not rule out legal action against France if it failed to deliver the ships.
According to a poll, conducted by French newspaper Le Figaro, about 60 percent of French citizens believe Paris should meet its obligation under the contract and deliver the helicopter carriers to Russia.
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