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Media: French Mistrals built for Russia may be sold to China

May 11, 2015, 11:52 UTC+3

A group of French combat ships, including a Mistral-class helicopter carrier, is on a visit to Shanghai

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©  EPA/Marcus Brandt

BEIJING, May 11. /TASS/. Within the framework of a visit to China’s Shanghai, French naval officials may try to offer China a deal on buying the Mistral amphibious assault ships built for Russia, China’s Duowei Xinwen newspaper writes on Monday.

A group of French naval ships intends to call at the port of Shanghai between May 9 and 15. It includes the Dixmude Mistral-class assault ship as well as the Aconit frigate. The newspaper writes that it will be the first time a Mistral-class ship will call at a Chinese port.

The newspaper reminds its readers that Russia ordered in France two Mistral amphibious assault ships for the Russian navy. However, because of the sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine "the French Navy is unlikely to transfer these ships to Russia," it writes.

"They will try to sell them to other states, inclining Brazil, Canada, Egypt and India. Although China already has analogous projects of helicopter carriers, China may purchase the  Vladivostok and Sevastopol ships ordered by Russia," the newspaper added.

Earlier French media reports said one of the options for dealing with the helicopter carriers built for Russia was to sink them. The media also said the plans of using the Mistral helicopter carriers by the French Navy are "unlikely" as they have been built in accordance with the Russian standards and the efforts to reequip them will cost hundreds of millions of euros.

"In this context, the main option is the possibility of finding new customers for these two Mistrals," the report says. The potential clients are Canada, Egypt and a North European country.

Under the contract, Russia was expected to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in the autumn of 2014. However, Paris suspended the ship’s handover to Russia at the very last moment over Moscow’s stance on developments in neighboring Ukraine.

It was planned that the second ship dubbed the Sevastopol would be handed over to Russia in the second half of 2015. But the deal was suspended like in the case with the first Mistral ship.

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