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08:58 AM, March 24, 2014
France Suspends Military Cooperation With Russia, Mistral Warship Deal Under Review

France has suspended most of its military cooperation with Russia, the French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday

The statement comes as Paris still mulls over the idea of cancelling the sale of two Mistral warships to Moscow.

Paris has suspended "the majority of its military cooperation with Russia" in the wake of Moscow's takeover of Crimea, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

Contacts between the chiefs of staff of France and Russia have been cut and a joint military exercise between the Britain, France and Russia that had been planned for April has also been cancelled, Le Drian said.

France will offer to send four fighter jets to the Baltic states to boost NATO air patrols over the region should the military alliance request them, he added.

But so far Paris has resisted pressure to suspend the controversial Mistral deal with Moscow.

Estonian Defence Minister Urmas Reinsalu criticised the possible sale, after Friday talks with his French counterpart.

A final decision on the sale is expected in October, according to Le Drian, who also visits fellow NATO member Poland on Friday as part of a Western push to offer security assurances to Eastern allies.


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