MOSCOW, July 17. /TASS/. Crews of Mistral helicopter carriers have not been disbanded and currently undergo training in Russia’s Navy, a military-diplomatic source told TASS on Friday.
"Mistral crews have not been disbanded. They can be disbanded only after a final decision is made on helicopter carriers," the source said, adding that crew members are currently "undergoing training in Russia’s Navy."
"In any case, these people will be in demand. Many new ships are built for the Russian Navy, where trained specialists may prove useful," the source noted.
In June, Russian presidential aide Vladimir Kozhin hopes that the Mistral affair will be resolved during the summer months and Russia will get either its money back or the ships.
Kozhin said such a situation could not last indefinitely. "I believe that we shall see a full stop in the near future. Either, or. Either the ships or the money," he said, answering in the affirmative, if a solution could be expected this summer. He remarked that a final solution did not depend on Russia, which would like to have the issue settled "yesterday."
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 east Ukraine.
Russia has constantly dismissed allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in Ukraine’s east.
Russian deputy premier Dmitry Rogozin said May 9 that France can’t make decisions on the sale of Mistral helicopter carriers without Russia’s consent as the Russian Federation has the end user certificate.