WASHINGTON, July 7. /TASS/. French government has decided to renounce delivery of helicopter carriers of the Mistral family to Russia although it realizes it will have to do a big refund to Moscow for failure to fulfill the agreement, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said here on Monday as he addressed experts and reporters at Marshall Foundation in Washington.
Le Drian recalled that French President Francois Hollande suspended the delivery of the ships to Russia last fall over the situation in eastern Ukraine a motion that Le Drian described as a correct strategic decision.
The situation in Ukraine has not changed since then and completion of the transactions with Russia is impossible. 'There are no conditions for this," he said.
He admitted that non-execution of the contract would cost his country some $ 1.2 billion but there was no other way out of the situation.
Also, Le Drian said France would have an alternative purchaser of the ships and this would not be easy to do, but he added he would be glad if they were obtained by the U.S. eventually.
However, the U.S. Defence Secretary, Ashton Carter did not speak about this at the talks, Le Drian said, with the audience reacting to his words with laughter.
Russian President's aide in charge of cooperation in defence-related technologies, Vadim Kozhin said Moscow was arranging a reimbursement of the monies paid for the Mistrals and it hoped to draft a final document with France on the issue "within a month".
Admiral Vladimir Chirkov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy said at an international naval show in St Petersburg last week Russia would build helicopter-carriers of the Mistral type of its own as a replacement for the ships that had been commissioned to France.
An agreement for building the Mistrals helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy was signed in the summer of 2011. The Russian military hoped to get the first ship, baptized The Vladivostok, last autumn but Paris suspended its handover citing the situation in Ukraine.
The second ship, The Sevastopol, was to be delivered in the second half of 2015 but its handover was also frozen.
Earlier reports said France was prepared to pay the compensation in case of non-delivery of the ships. Moscow has said more than once it will be satisfied with any option either the ships or the money.