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ST. PETERSBURG, July 2. /TASS/. Russia plans within a month to sign the final document on the destiny of the Mistral class helicopter carriers it ordered in France, Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin told TASS on Thursday.
"Virtually all issues have already been settled. The final document will be signed in the short run," Kozhin said.
Answering a question on when the document signing will take place, he said: "Within a month." Kozhin earlier said that Russia is working on settling the issue with returning money for Mistrals.
The Ђ1.12-billion contract to build the Mistral amphibious assault ships for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011. In case it is not implemented, France will have to pay Russia a penalty fee.
The first Mistral, the Vladivostok, was floated in October 2013. It was expected to be handed over to Russia by the French side in autumn 2014, but the handover did not take place due to the situation in Ukraine. The second Mistral, the Sevastopol, was to be delivered to Russia in October 2015, but the deal was suspended as well.
France suspended the delivery of Mistrals to Russia as part of a package of sanctions the European countries imposed on Moscow for what they claimed was its alleged role in destabilization of east Ukraine. Russia has constantly dismissed allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in Ukraine’s east. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin said on May 9 that France can’t make decisions on the sale of Mistral helicopter carriers without Russia’s consent as the Russian Federation has the end user certificate.
Previous reports suggested that the French side was ready to pay compensation to Russia if the helicopter carriers are not delivered. Moscow has repeatedly said that it would be satisfied with any option - either the ships or money. In early June, Kozhin said that he hoped that the situation with the Mistral warships would be resolved during the summer. Russia wants to have all expenses related to production of the ships to be covered, he said.
In the middle of June, a high-ranking official from the military and defense sphere told TASS that Russia still does not rule out the possibility that Mistral helicopter carriers will be delivered.