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The carrier set out for drills overnight to September 24 with 200 Russian sailors on board. Russians with support of around 200 French specialists practised skills they had acquired during a training course in Saint-Nazaire.
This was the second sea trial for Vladivostok in the past month. In September another group of Russian sailors went on a sea trial. Under their command and control of French instructors Vladivostok participated in drills. A total of 400 sailors from Russia are taking training courses in Saint-Nazaire.Vladivostok is already almost prepared for handover to the Russian Navy. Construction of the second helicopter carrier ordered by Russia should be finalised by the end of 2015. Russia and France have signed a contract for their construction worth €1.12 billion in June 2011. The deal envisages delivery of two warships with all navigation and technological equipment including licensing documentation. Vladivostok is planned to be handed over on November 1, 2014 and Sevastopol - by November 1, 2015.
However, fulfilment of the contract terms was put into question over the current situation in Ukraine. In September, French President Francois Hollande stated that “in current conditions” Paris finds delivery of first Mistral helicopter carrier “impossible”, though the country did not reject the deal as it is. On Thursday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Mistral helicopter carriers might be transferred to Russia within planned timeline, but if clashes stopped and political peace process started in Ukraine. In his words, a final decision will be taken by the end of October.