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PARIS, March 16. /TASS/. The second Mistral-class helicopter carrier built for Russia, the Sevastopol, is to begin sea trials off the French port of Saint-Nazaire on Monday, a source in the shipbuilding sector has told TASS.
"The ship will for the first time take to the open sea to carry out the sea trials and to check the work of the navigation systems," the source said. "The helicopter carrier is expected to return to the port in the end of the week, on March 20," he said.
The source stressed that the works on completing the construction of the Sevastopol are "in line with the contract." In February, the Sevastopol’s on-board equipment started transmitting the signal for the international Automatic Identification System, AIS.
The €1.12-billion contract for building two Mistral class ships for the Russian Navy was concluded in June 2011. The first ship, the Vladivostok, launched in October 2013, was to be delivered to Russia back in November 2014. At the last moment Paris suspended the handover indefinitely saying the crisis in Ukraine was the reason. The Vladivostok has since remained moored in Saint-Nazaire.
It was originally planned that the Sevastopol was to be handed over to the Russian side in the second half of 2015. However, like in the case with the first ship, the decision on its supply has been yet frozen.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the National Assembly in mid-February: "France’s priority is stabilization and security in Ukraine, which directly depends on the observance of ceasefire by all parties, and also the implementation of a political project that would pave the way out of the crisis."