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Mistral contract not suspended — French president

September 04, 2014, 19:41 UTC+3

The French Foreign Ministry believes the conditions existing today are not sufficient for a handover of the Mistral to Russia at the moment

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© EPA/Marcus Brandt

NEWPORT (UK), September 04./ITAR-TASS/. The contract on the delivery of Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia has not been cancelled or suspended but its fate will depend on the events of the coming weeks, French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday.

French authorities link the destiny of the first helicopter carrier in the Mistral family, which was due to be transferred to Russia this autumn, to further developments in the southeast of Ukraine, Romain Nadal, said Thursday summing up the political position of the country’s government.

As he answered a question about the conditions under which France was ready to regain fulfillment of its contractual obligations, Nadal recalled the words of the French Foreign Minister Loran Fabius, who said Wednesday it was necessary to assure that the nascent ceasefire should be translated into practice and France, quite naturally, supported it in every possible way.

Once this happened, a political mechanism might be designed to eliminate both an immediate standoff between Russia and Ukraine and a standoff between their proxies, Fabius said.

The French Foreign Ministry believes the conditions existing today are not sufficient for a handover of the Mistral to Russia at the moment, Nadal said quoting the minister.

He added the French government hoped sufficient conditions would emerge in the future.

Wednesday, President Francois Hollande said for the first time ever Paris was not ready to fulfill its obligations under the agreement on Mistrals at the moment.

A statement issued by the presidential press service described the situation in Eastern Ukraine as grave. It also said the actions ostensibly undertaken by Russia recently ran counter to the main principles of security in Europe.

“The President of the Republic has concluded that that despite the prospect of ceasefire, which is yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not present,” Hollander’s press service said.

A contract worth 1.12 billion euro for building Mistral helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011. At present, construction of the Vladivostok carrier is near completion in a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire - the first one of the two ships covered by the agreement.

About 400 Russian sailors are getting trained in France for service at the new helicopters. Transition of the first one to Russia was expected this autumn.

The second ship, christened the Sevastopol, was laid in June 2013 at the Baltic Plant in St Petersburg. Under the contract, the shipyard built the aft of the ship that was brought to Saint-Nazaire for the final stage of testing last week.

Initial plans indicated that the Sevasopol was to be commissioned by the Russian Navy at the end of 2015.

If the agreement is broken off, France will have to pay a penalty measuring several billion euro.

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