LONDON, July 26. /TASS/. Decision on whether or not to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia will be taken in the coming weeks, French President Francois Hollande said later night Monday at an annual dinner with the media covering the French presidency
He did not elaborate on the fate of the contract, Bloomberg said.
Earlier this month, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to Washington the French government had decided to halt the delivery of the first two Mistral carriers to Russia although it realized it would have to reimburse a big enough sum of money for non-compliance with the contract.
He recalled President Hollande had ordered suspension of the transfer of two newly built ships Russia in the wake of developments in Ukraine.
Drian insisted that this was a correct strategic decision and the situation had not changed a little since then. Conditions for the transaction did not exist at the moment, he said.
He admitted along with it that the failure to perform the contract would cost 1.2 billion euro to the French government.
Russia and France signed a contract for construction of two Mistral ships for the Russian Navy in June 2011. The first ship that was christened The Vladivostok was made waterborne in October 2013 and its handover to the Russian Navy was scheduled for November 2014 but Paris took an eleventh-hour decision to suspend the transition of the helicopter carriers under the pretext of the situation in Ukraine.
The second ship of the Mistral class, The Vladivostok, was to be turned over to Russia in the first half of 2015. Its future plight is unknown, too.
On July 25, a source in the Russian defence manufacturing sector told TASS that the Russian authorities had begun to gather a group of specialists who would go to France to dismantle equipment installed on the Mistrals.
"We’ve received a task to do this and we’re gathering a group of experts now who’ll go to France to dismantle the telecommunications and control equipment supplied by Russian manufacturers and installed on the Mistral (The Vladisvostok)," the source said.
He stressed the universal character of that equipment, adding it could be used on other Russian naval ships.
Telecommunications and control systems for the two helicopter carriers were designed and manufactured by the Sistemy Upravleniya corporation.
The Mistrals are used for the transportation of troops and landfall operations and are also used as command ships. Each of them can carry up to sixteen heavy-duty or thirty-two light helicopters and up to 900 soldiers with armored cars and amphibious assault boats.