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PARIS, April 19. /TASS/. French President Francois Hollande told France’s Canal+ television on Sunday he would discuss the situation around the Mistral-type helicopter carriers at his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin due to take place in Armenia on April 24.
He said a solution to the crisis around Mistrals ought to be finally reached.
The French leader said relations with Russia were of the inter-state level. He said he had known his Russian counterpart for about three years as a downright sort of man who never hid his plans.
He also commended Putin’s position at the three-party talks on Ukraine involving German Chancellor Angela Merkel. According to Hollande, Putin knew perfectly well what was going on in Ukraine.
The contract for the construction of two Mistral-type helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy to a sum of 1.12 billion euro was signed in June 2011. The contract stipulated for the construction of two Mistral class helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy. The first warship - the Vladivostok - was to be handed over to Russia in autumn 2014 but the French side postponed the delivery citing Moscow’s stance in regard to the conflict in Ukraine.
Built by France’s DCNS for the Russian Navy, the second Mistral helicopter carrier - the Sevastopol - is a universal assault helicopter carrier capable of performing the tasks of shipping troops and cargoes, landing troops and acting as a command post. It can accommodate up to 900 troops and carry up to 16 heavy or 32 light helicopters and four landing boats. The keel was laid down on June 19, 2013 and the vessel was floated out on November 20, 2014. It has been undergoing manufacturer’s trials at Staint Nazaire shipyards since Match 16, 2015.
Under the contract, the Russian Fleet expected it in the second half of 2015. But the deal was suspended like in the case of the first Mistral ship. Earlier, Paris repeatedly said that the deal would be closed only when the conflict in southeastern Ukraine was settled.