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YEREVAN, April 24. /TASS/. Russia believes that France’s return of the €1.5-billion prepayment for the undelivered Mistral ships is an "acceptable option." As a diplomatic source has said, in that way "France will save face." The official added that Moscow appreciated France’s decision to give the money back.
According to media reports the suspension of the deal costs France 3 million euros a month.
As French President Francois Hollande said in Paris on Wednesday, his country still saw no possibility of handing the ships over to Russia.
"At this point their delivery is impossible, given the known context," the French leader said. He declared that the theme of Mistral ships would be one of the items on the agenda of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Yerevan on Friday.
"We will discuss all possibilities," he said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Friday Russia should not sue France over the failure to deliver the Mistral-class helicopter carriers. "I do not think that such relations as relations between Russia and France should be brought to litigation," Rogozin told reporters speaking on the prospects of Russia’s lawsuit against France.
The €1.12-billion contract to build the Mistral amphibious assault ships for the Russian navy was signed in June 2011. In case it is not implemented, France will have to pay Russia a penalty fee.
The first Mistral, the Vladivostok, was floated in October 2013. It was expected to be handed over to Russia by the French side in the fall of 2014, but the handover did not take place.
The second Mistral, the Sevastopol, was to be delivered to Russia in October 2015, but the deal was suspended too.
France suspended the delivery of Mistrals to Russia as part of a package of sanctions the European countries imposed on Moscow for what they claimed was its alleged role in destabilization of southeast Ukraine.
Russia has constantly dismissed allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in Ukraine’s southeast.