MOSCOW, May 29. /TASS/. France was forced to cancel the Mistral deal under foreign pressure, Russian Permanent Representative at the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said on Friday.
"When sanctions in the area of military cooperation were being imposed on Russia, the issue of Mistral deal was thoroughly cut out from the ban. It was done at France’s request, since back then it hoped to close the deal," Chizhov said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel. "So, it means someone has decided not to let France do that."
He said if Russia were not that discreet on that matter it might have made France’s situation much easier. "As the story unfolded, the French partners found themselves in a difficult situation - the money is to be paid back," Chizhov said.
The contract for the construction of two Mistral-type helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy to a sum of 1.12 billion euro was signed in June 2011. The contract stipulated for the construction of two Mistral class helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy. The first warship - the Vladivostok - was to be handed over to Russia in autumn 2014 but the French side postponed the delivery citing Moscow’s stance in regard to the conflict in Ukraine.
Built by France’s DCNS for the Russian Navy, the second Mistral helicopter carrier - the Sevastopol - is a universal assault helicopter carrier capable of performing the tasks of shipping troops and cargoes, landing troops and acting as a command post. It can accommodate up to 900 troops and carry up to 16 heavy or 32 light helicopters and four landing boats. The keel was laid down on June 19, 2013 and the vessel was floated out on November 20, 2014. It has been undergoing manufacturer’s trials at Staint Nazaire shipyards since March 16, 2015.
Under the contract, the Russian Fleet expected it in the second half of 2015. But the deal was suspended like in the case of the first Mistral ship. Earlier, Paris repeatedly said that the deal would be closed only when the conflict in southeastern Ukraine was settled.