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Expert says France will not be able to sell Mistrals to third country

September 05, 2014, 14:40 UTC+3 Itar-Tass Analysis
© AP Photo/David Vincent

MOSCOW, September 05. /ITAR-TASS/. France will not be able to sell the two helicopter carriers in the Mistral family currently being built for Russia to a third country if it breaks off the contract on their delivery to Russia, Maxim Shapovalenko, an expert at the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies told ITAR-TASS on Friday.

First and foremost, the ships are very expensive, he said.

“If the French break off the contract they will get nothing but headache because there’s no one they could possible sell these ships to,” Shapovalenko said. “No one is willing to buy these rather expensive ships that have an ice reinforcement of the hull that was done specially for Russia.

“The French had negotiations with the South African Republic but ended to no effect,” he said.

Vladimir Shcherbakov, an expert for naval weaponry at the Nezavissimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye (Independent Defense Review) believes that if the contract is disrupted, France will have an opportunity to assign one of the ships to its own Naval Force while the other ship will remain at a loose end.

“France was pondering construction of one more Mistral for itself but a part of the construction costs was to be covered with the monies it would get for the helicopter carrier bound for Russia,” Shcherbakov said. “And if the contract is severed, France will have to mothball it indefinitely because it’ll be excessive for its Navy.”

Russian Defense Minister Yuri Borisov told ITAR-TASS earlier the Defense Ministry did not view a possible severing of the Mistral contract by France as a tragedy in what concerned rearmament of the Navy or compliance with the state program for armaments.

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.

ITAR-TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors