MOSCOW, April 1. /TASS/. A European news portal has apparently celebrated April Fool's Day by announcing that France will sell two impounded Mistral warships ordered by Russia to the European Union instead.
The tale's drawn mirth from inside the Kremlin walls, noting with grace on Wednesday the value of "any good joke" — and that while Russia's leadership could generate parallel amusement of its own, "the Kremlin is working more than joking", said spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
"Fulfilling contracts is also welcomed," the official insisted over the frozen €1.12-billion deal.
EUobserver portal's supposed spoof destined the two stranded Mistral copter carriers for the EU's foreign service instead of Russian naval fleet service.
The first ship, Sevastopol, would be stationed in Riga, capital of Latvia, and renamed Juncker after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the news service said.
The second vessel would be named Mogherini after EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini, and transferred to Lampedusa, an island in her native Italy.
A spokesman for the EU foreign service later said the story was an April Fool's Day joke, drawing the view from Brussels that it was all a bit of fun.
The now blocked deal was concluded in June 2011. Vladivostok, launched in October 2013, was to be delivered to Russia in November last year. But at the last moment, Paris suspended the handover indefinitely, blaming the crisis in Ukraine.
Original plans eyed Sevastopol's handover to Russia in the second half of this year. As with the first ship, the decision on its supply remains frozen.