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Russian crews trained for Mistral ships leave French port — Russian Navy source

December 18, 2014, 16:35 UTC+3
The handover of the first ship to Russia was to take place on November 14 but the French side postponed it indefinitely citing the crisis in Ukraine
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© AP Photo/Laetitia Notarianni

MOSCOW, December 18. /TASS/. Russian training ship The Smolny has checked out of the French port of St Nazaire and is heading for Kronstadt in the Gulf of Finland with more than 400 Russian sailors aboard, a source at the Russian Navy said on Thursday.

The sailors have received a course of training in St Nazaire in how to operate the Mistrals.

“At 12:00 hours Moscow Standard Time /09:00 hours GMT/ more than 400 Russian Navy servicemen making up the crews of two Mistrals left French port aboard the Smolny ship and are heading for Kronstadt,” he said.

The Russian crew of the helicopter carrier may return to the France if Paris eventually decides to turn the ship over to Russia, the source told TASS.

Infographics Mistral helicopter carrier Mistral helicopter carrier
Russia will purchase Mistral-class helicopter carriers from France. Infographics by TASS
“The crew of the Vladivostok helicopter carrier will return to St Nazaire if the French government decides to turn the ship over to the Russian side before Moscow files a lawsuit with the international court,” he said.

The Russians arrived in St Nazaire at the end of June to get a drill in operating the helicopter carriers. Under the initial plans, they were to return to St Petersburg for fitting the ship up, after which it was to head for Vladivostok, its port of registration.

The handover of the first ship to Russia was to take place on November 14 but the French side postponed it indefinitely citing the crisis in Ukraine.

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