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US Congress persuades NATO to scuttle Mistral warships deal between Russia and France

May 30, 2014, 11:50 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
If the contract is terminated, France will owe over €1.2 billion to Russia
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Mistral helicopter carrier (archive)

Mistral helicopter carrier (archive)

© EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

WASHINGTON, May 30. /ITAR-TASS/. The US has been interfering with the France-Russia deal on the Mistral helicopter carrier: a group of democratic members of the Congress has sent a letter to NATO’s secretary general urging to persuade Paris to refuse from the deal with Moscow and to sell the warships to NATO. The initiative was supposed to become a “strong signal” to Russia concerning Ukraine.

The US has been making several attempts to scuttle the contract, where the French authorities confirm the obligations are observed properly. France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said during his visit to Washington in May, Russia had paid over half the contract price and thus no legal grounds existed for saying “no.”

However, the Mistral story is not over. Paris claimed a “final decision” was due in October after a legal analysis of the deal. That would refer to the economic sanctions against Russia as the Mistral contract is on the list of the third sanctions against the Russian Federation.

If the contract is terminated, France will owe over €1.2 billion to Russia. The amount covers the deal for two ships and fines for France’s termination of the contract. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin forecasts the wave around the situation in Ukraine would fade away and currently European politicians should think about consequences for interests of their own countries.

The contract worth €1.12 billion on construction of the helicopter carriers for Russia’s Navy is dated 2011. Under the contract, France is to build at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire. The first ship is due to be ready in October, and the other one - in 2016.

Russia’s defense products exporting authority (Rosoboronexport) hopes the French side would not change the contract. A breach of legally binding conditions will cause a response, the authority’s representative told ITAR-TASS.

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