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Russia ready to supply helicopters for Mistral warships to Egypt — official

Negotiations could be launched after Egypt finishes the work on the contract for the purchase of the helicopter carriers from France

MOSCOW, October 21. /TASS/. Russia expects Egypt to begin negotiations on the deliveries of Russian equipment and helicopters for the Mistral class helicopter carriers. Moscow is ready to deliver the required amount of equipment, Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin told TASS on Wednesday.

Asked how many helicopters Moscow was ready to supply for the Mistral ships, the Kremlin official said: "As many as needed for these vessels."

Kozhin said that negotiations could be launched after Egypt finishes the work on the contract for the purchase of the helicopter carriers from France. "The Russian side is ready to negotiate, so it depends on them [Egypt], if they are interested, we are ready. I think that they are an interested party because much had been done [on the ships] to match our equipment," the presidential aide said.

"I think that there is a high probability that the talks will take place, but this, again, depends on the Egyptian side," Kozhin said.

Previously, chief of the Russian presidential administration Sergei Ivanov said that the sum of the transaction for the supply to Egypt of equipment and helicopters for the French Mistral ships it intends to purchase from France might exceed $1 billion.

"Egypt plans to buy the Mistral ships from France and Russia will be, if you like, a sub-contractor, which will deliver for these Mistrals the missing equipment, without which the Mistrals, excuse me, are, to put it mildly, just ‘tin cans’ - and naturally, all the helicopters, which will amount to the total of over $1 billion for sure," said the Kremlin representative.

"Egypt is buying the Mistrals from France, and then, after the deal is closed, speaking the business language, then Egypt will apparently - I only guess - will sign a contract with Russia on further equipping the Mistrals - both the ships and helicopters, and will make a significant contribution to the fight against international terrorism," said the Russian presidential administration chief.

Egypt signed a contract on two Mistral-class helicopter carriers on October 10. The vessels may be supplied to Egypt in summer, 2016 along with storm boats.

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 neighbouring 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.

After a long wait, Russia and France in early August reached an agreement to officially cancel the contract. The French government said in a release then, "the President of the Republic believed that it was not wise to increase the threat and to deliver these two ships" in connection with the situation in Ukraine. After the deal cancellation agreement, it was reported that France was selling both of the Mistrals, built for Russia, to Egypt. It paid about €950 million back to Russia for the dissolution of the contract, with the compensation including Russia’s advance payments totalling almost €900 million. "This has covered all of the costs sustained by Russia," the source said.

Under the deal, Russia gets the money and Russian equipment installed on the vessels back, and France will then be able to use the warships at its own discretion. French media earlier reported that Paris paid Russia €949 million for the Mistral contract cancelation, and the overall sum of payment exceeded €1 billion.