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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

FRANCE MAY, MAY NOT, DELIVER WARSHIPS TO RUSSIA: RUSSIAN SAILORS ALREADY TRAINING ON SHIPS

Russia: No Formal Refusal From France On Two Ship Mistral Deal

October 15, 2014



Despite strong language from the French President Fran├žois Hollande, Russia has not received formal notification from France suspending or cancelling the $1.53 billion deal for two Mistral-class amphibious warship deal, Russian officials said on Tuesday.
“We have not received any official refusals,” Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, reported Russian wire service ITAR-TASS.
“The contract schedule has not changed.”
Under the original terms, France was to handover the first ship — Vladivostok — at the end of October.
In September Hollande’s office issued a statement saying, absent a ceasefire agreement with Ukraine, “the conditions under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place.
France’s final decision on the Mistral isn’t clear as of Tuesday.
Vladivostok has been allowed to conduct limited sea trials since a mid-September limited Ukraine-Russian separatist ceasefire, according to a Friday report in The Guardian.
In June, 400 Russian sailors traveled to the French port of Saint-Nazaire to train to operate Vladivostok.
Since Hollande’s announcement, those sailors have laid low, according to The Guardian report.
In 2011 the Sarkozy administration signed a deal with Russia for the two ships — versions of the French Navy’s 21,000-ton Mistral big deck amphibs modified to operate in Arctic conditions and able to field heavier Russian helicopters.
In the meantime, Russia has reportedly contracted with the domestic shipbuilders for an additional Ivan Gren-class amphibious warship (Project 11711).
The Ivan Gren-class displaces 6,000-tons and has far less helicopter capability than the Mistrals.