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Selling Mistral warships to NATO impossible — Russian diplomat

The Mistral-type helicopter carriers were made to be equipped with Russian weapons

MOSCOW, December 26. /TASS/. France cannot sell Mistral-class helicopter carriers to NATO member states as the warships were built to fit out with Russian weapons, Russia's envoy to NATO said on Friday.

"I think it's impossible because, first of all, the contract was signed between Russia and France," Alexander Grushko said. "Moreover, these vessels were made to be equipped with Russian weapons."

The €1.12-billion contract to build the Mistral amphibious assault ships for the Russian navy was signed in June 2011.

The first Mistral, the Vladivostok, was floated in October 2013 and the second, the Sevastopol, is planned to be built in 2015.

In early September French President Francois Hollande said after months of pressure from NATO that he had decided to postpone the Vladivostok's delivery to Russia over the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

In mid-December some 400 Russiann sailors who had been training to operate the Vladivostok left France for Russia. The Russian authorities said that Moscow will pursue legal action and impose penalties if France scraps the Mistral deal.