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France could 'scuttle' Mistral warships if scraps delivery to Russia — paper

May 06, 2015, 9:53 UTC+3 PARIS
"Among the possible options of actions considered by the official Paris, a possibility is being studied of destroying the helicopter carriers," Le Figaro reported
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© EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

PARIS, May 6. /TASS/. France may opt for deliberately sinking in the open sea two Mistral-class helicopter carriers built for Russia if Paris choses to cancel the contract and refuses to hand over them to Russia, Le Figaro reported on Wednesday.

"Among the possible options of actions considered by the official Paris, a possibility is being studied of destroying the helicopter carriers. They will be either dismantled and utilized or scuttled in the open sea," the French newspaper reported.

Such an option of ending the 1.12 billion-euro French-Russian contract for the construction of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy, signed in June 2011, is "shocking," the newspaper said.

A high-ranking French military official told the newspaper that such measures are "unacceptable" with due regard to the employees of Saint-Nazaire, France's largest shipyard, where the huge warships were built.

The newspaper also said the plans of using the Mistral helicopter carriers by the French Navy are "unlikely" as they have been built in accordance with the Russian standards and the efforts to reequip them will cost hundreds of millions of euros.

"In this context, the main option is the possibility of finding new customers for these two Mistrals," the report says. The potential clients are Canada, Egypt and a North European country.

Under the contract, Russia was expected to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in the autumn of 2014. However, Paris suspended the ship’s handover to Russia at the very last moment over Moscow’s stance on developments in neighboring Ukraine.

It was planned that the second ship dubbed the Sevastopol would be handed over to Russia in the second half of 2015. But the deal was suspended like in the case with the first Mistral ship.

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