France Postpones Mistral Warship Handover Indefinitely, Russia Threatens With 'Serious Claims'
The French government has decided to put a hold on the delivery of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia.
The decision comes after months of uncertainty about whether Russia would receive the ships under the EUR 1.2 B deal, amid sanctions imposed by the West for Russian incursions into Ukraine, or whether French shipbuilder DCNS would instead find another buyer.
Nevertheless, it was believed that the first ship, Vladivostok, would be handed over to Russia on November 14, as per an invitation sent by the DCNS offices in Paris to the Russian state-owned arms supplier Rosoboronexport in October. According to a photo of the invitation, tweeted by Russia's Foreign Minister Dmitry Rogozin in the end of October, Pierre Legros, Senior Vice President of DCNS was personally inviting Rogozin to the delivery ceremony of Vladivostok in the St Nazaire harbour.
According to the state RIA news agency, the Russian delegation that had planned to travel to France to take part in the ceremony, had stayed home and no new date for a handover had been set.
"No delivery date can be fixed at this stage," Jean-Yves Le Drian, the France’s defence minister, told the National Assembly, the lower house of France’s parliament, as quoted by French media. "The president of the Republic has said that a definitive decision will come at the right moment, taking into account all the responsibilities that come with this decision, which is not a simple one," he added.
According to RIA, quoting an unnamed source, Russia may demand monetary compensation, unless France delivers the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers by the end of November.
"We are preparing for various scenarios. We will wait until the end of the month, then we will lay some serious claims," said the unnamed source.
The source said analysts were looking at various amounts of monetary compensation. "The sum will not be secret," the source was quoted as saying.
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