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PARIS, August 3. /TASS/. French taxpayers run the risk of paying a heavy price for the authorities’ desire to get rid as soon as possible of two Mistral helicopter carriers that were originally built for Russia, the Eco business newspaper wrote on Sunday.
"France proposed to return to Russia the 785 million euros it paid previously. However, apart from the compensation amount, the question of the future of the warships is of paramount importance as well," the newspaper wrote. It noted that the French Navy had three ships of this class, and it did not need the new ones, considering the fact that it had no money to purchase them." "The only possible solution in this situation is to sell the helicopter carriers as soon as possible, even at a low price," the article said.
According to the newspaper, the maintenance of the vessels "costs the DCNS shipbuilding corporation from 1 to 2 million euros per month." "The corporation has no illusions and realizes that the French government will compensate it for far from all expenses," the newspaper wrote. "France urgently needs to find customers. However, Canada often mentioned in this context, is by no means an easy client," Eco wrote, adding that India could too become a potential customer.
The newspaper pointed to the fact that the two warships needed "de-Russification." This concerns, in particular, dismantling the powerful heating system, if a ship will be purchased by India, which doesn’t need such equipment. It’s also necessary to change the system software and resolve a number of other issues related to the helicopter hangars. "All this will require considerable funds, and the potential customers are aware of the fact that Paris is in a hurry to get rid of the vessels. These are by no means perfect conditions for negotiations with the customers. As a result, it is the French taxpayer that runs the hazard of being forced to dip into his pocket to repay part of the costs accompanying the sale of these Mistral warships," the newspaper wrote.
The 1.12 billion-euro 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.