Delivery of the Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia could be delayed indefinitely going by the tough posture adopted by the French government.
With delivery scheduled for mid-November, the French government has withheld permission to the warship builder, DCNS to start the process to hand over the warship to the Russian Navy. "The conditions today are not met to deliver the Mistral," French Finance Minister Michel Sapin was quoted as saying to RTL radio in an interview today. He added that the conditions the French government wants to see are “that in Ukraine the situation becomes more normal and things cool down."
DCNS denied earlier media reports concerning the potential delivery of the Mistral Helicopter Landing Platform (BPC) to the Russian Federation in November. “It is still expecting the required export authorization to be granted by the French Government. For this reason, it is not in a position to indicate any date for the hand-over of the ship at the current stage,” Emmanuel Gaudez, spokesman for the defense contractor said in a statement.
Russia however maintained that the delivery would go ahead as scheduled. “France has invited a Russian delegation to attend the transfer of the Mistral amphibious assault ship in Saint-Nazaire, western France November 14 this year,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies Wednesday.
About 400 Russian sailors have been receiving training to operate the helicopter carrier in Saint-Nazaire.
Russia also threatened to sue France if Paris refuses to honor the contract. "We will file a lawsuit and demand compensation [if the contract is not fulfilled], as it's commonly done in a civilized world," Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said last week.
Vladivostok is the first of two Mistral-class amphibious assault Ships that was to be delivered in October. The contract is worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion).