SAMARA, May 18. /TASS/. France and Russia are holding negotiations on settling the situation around the failed Mistral helicopter carrier deal, French Ambassador to Moscow Jean-Maurice Ripert said on Monday.
"The president of France has said the conditions for the delivery of Mistrals cannot be fulfilled. But he has confirmed that we have started negotiations with the Russian side to get out of this problematic situation. There is agreement between Mr. [Vladimir] Putin and [Francois] Hollande for resolving this problem and this is what we are doing," the French ambassador said.
Russian business paper Kommersant earlier reported, citing "sources in the sphere of military and technical cooperation" that Paris had prepared and sent draft documents to Moscow on annulling the inter-governmental agreement on building two Mistral helicopter carriers for Russia and the corresponding contract on these two amphibuous assault ships.
These draft documents "imply returning Russia about €785 million, which it will be able to receive only after the Russian government issues written permission for the sale of the ships to any third party without any reservations," Kommersant reported .
According to the newspaper, "Moscow disagrees with such an approach: it estimates expenses and losses from the severance of the contract at €1,163 billion and does not intend to issue any permission for re-export until this money is returned."
The €1.12 billion contract for the construction of two Mistral-type helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011.
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.
The Mistral-type helicopter carriers have a displacement of 21 tons, the maximum body length of 210 meters, the speed of 18 knots and the range of up to 20,000 miles.
The helicopter carrier can accommodate 450 people in addition to its crew of 180. It carries 16 helicopters, of which six can be simultaneously stored on the flight-deck.
A compartment in the cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motorized vehicles. Mistral helicopter carriers are capable of performing four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, and act as a command post and a floating hospital.