ST. PETERSBURG, October 10. /TASS/. France will take a decision on the delivery of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia depending on the peace process in Ukraine, French Ambassador to Russia Jean-Maurice Ripert said on Friday.
“We will make the decision depending on peace restoration in Ukraine and the compliance with the Minsk protocol,” Ripert told reporters in St. Petersburg.
The statement echoes the announcement of French President Francois Hollande in early September that Paris will decide on the delivery in late October based on the situation in eastern Ukraine.
“The President of the Republic clearly outlined the position of France. Amid the current crisis in Ukraine, there are not enough signs of reconciliation to make the delivery of Mistrals possible,” the ambassador said. “The contract has not been suspended or canceled, the delivery has been just postponed,” the diplomat stressed.
France will decide on the delivery as soon as the sides reach “an effective ceasefire with an effective border control between Russia and Ukraine, and conditions arise for launching a political process to define the future of Ukraine’s constitution that would guarantee the rights of the country’s south-east,” he said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday it is time that France makes up its mind about Mistral helicopter carriers. “There have been many statements on Mistrals on the part of the French defense and foreign ministers. The situation is rather simple, but there is a contract that needs to be fulfullied,” Lukashevich said.
The Russian diplomat said “certain sums” were transferred for this contract and it is high time to decide, or otherwise “money should be returned.” He said Russia heard some statements from France in summer that despite the current situation, the contract will be implemented.
Russia and France signed a $1.6 billion deal for two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. The first of them, the Vladivostok, was to arrive in Russia from Saint-Nazaire, France, in December 2014. The second ship, the Sevastopol, was expected to arrive next year.