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MOSCOW, July 22. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Tuesday that exempts the deliveries of France’s Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia from VAT payments.
The law on VAT exemption, which will be in effect from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016, was adopted to prevent an increase in the cost of the contract on Mistral ship deliveries signed between France and Russia.
Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov said earlier that “the contract with France would be completed” by June 30, 2016 and the Mistral helicopter carriers would be delivered to Russia. He also said that the Mistral deliveries had already been exempt from an import customs duty until June 30, 2016.
The Mistral issue was in the focus of attention this week. The United States has started to exert strong pressure on France, urging it to give up the Mistral warship deliveries to Russia as differences continue to persist between Washington and Moscow over developments in south-east Ukraine.
However, French President Francois Hollande said on Monday that France would fulfill its obligations for the construction of the first Mistral-type warship and would hand it over to Russia on time. Hollande said that work on the second Mistral warship would depend on Moscow’s stance on the Ukraine crisis.
The €1.12 billion contract for building two Mistral-type ships was signed by the Russian defense exporting company Rosoboronexport and French DCNS in June of 2011.
Under the contract, Russia is to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in October-November this year. The second Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Sevastopol, is expected to be handed over to Russia by the end of the next year.
The Mistral-type helicopter carriers have a displacement of 21 tons, the maximum body length of 210 meters, the speed of 18 knots and the range of up to 20,000 miles.
The crew is 170 members, and in addition it can take on board 450 people. Each ship is capable of carrying a fleet of 16 helicopters. Six of them can be simultaneously deployed on the flight-deck. The cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motorized vehicles.
Mistral landing helicopter carriers are capable of performing four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, and act as a command post and a floating hospital.