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Kremlin refuses to disclose details of possible Mistral agreements

July 31, 2015, 12:42 UTC+3
An article published by the Kommersant daily said the forfeit penalty will total €1.2 billion
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© ITAR-TASS/Vadim Zhernov

MOSCOW, July 31. /TASS/. The Kremlin refuses to disclose the details of the agreements on the Mistral warships, which may have been reached by Russia and France.

"As far as I know, there were statements by presidential aide Kozhin. I have nothing to add on the matter now," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has told reporters.

Peskov commented on an article published by the Kommersant daily, according to which, the forfeit penalty will total €1.2 billion.

The €1.12 billion contract for the construction of two Mistral-type helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011. Under the contract, Russia was expected to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in the autumn of 2014. However, Paris suspended the ship’s handover to Russia at the very last moment over Moscow’s stance on developments in neighboring Ukraine.

It was planned that the second ship dubbed the Sevastopol would be handed over to Russia in the second half of 2015. But the deal was suspended like in the case with the first Mistral ship.

Infographics Mistral helicopter carrier Mistral helicopter carrier
Russia will purchase Mistral-class helicopter carriers from France. Infographics by TASS

Russian presidential aide for military and technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin earlier told TASS Russia was discussing only the sum of compensation for France’s refusal to deliver the amphibious ships and a final document would be signed soon. The Mistral-type helicopter carriers have a displacement of 21 tonnes, the maximum body length of 210 metres, the speed of 18 knots and the range of up to 20,000 miles. The helicopter carrier can accommodate 450 people in addition to its crew of 180. It carries 16 helicopters, of which six can be simultaneously stored on the flight-deck. A compartment in the cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motorised vehicles. Mistral helicopter carriers are capable of performing four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, and act as a command post and a floating hospital.

On July 26, French President Francois Hollande said that the decision on whether or not to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia will be taken in the coming weeks. He did not elaborate on the fate of the contract, Bloomberg reported. Earlier this month, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to Washington the French government had decided to halt the delivery of the first two Mistral carriers to Russia although it realised it would have to reimburse a big enough sum of money for non-compliance with the contract.

He recalled President Hollande had ordered suspension of the transfer of two newly built ships to Russia in the wake of developments in Ukraine. Drian insisted that this was a correct strategic decision and the situation had not changed a little since then. Conditions for the transaction did not exist at the moment, he said. He admitted along with it that the failure to perform the contract would cost €1.2 billion to the French government.

On July 25, a source in the Russian defense manufacturing sector told TASS that the Russian authorities had begun to gather a group of specialists who would go to France to dismantle equipment installed on the Mistrals. "We’ve received a task to do this and we’re gathering a group of experts now who’ll go to France to dismantle the telecommunications and control equipment supplied by Russian manufacturers and installed on the Mistral (the Vladivostok)," the source said. He stressed the universal character of that equipment, adding it could be used on other Russian naval ships. Telecommunications and control systems for the two helicopter carriers were designed and manufactured by the Sistemy Upravleniya corporation.

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