Mistral talks between France and Russia are over – top Russian official

The two Mistral-class helicopter carriers Sevastopol © Stephane Mahe
Talks between Russia and France concerning the future of the Mistral contract have ended. The contract will be terminated in the near future, a top Russian official has stated.

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Paris and Moscow have agreed on and amount of the penalty France will have to pay Russia for not delivering the Mistral helicopter carriers, and the date on which it must be paid, thus bringing the negotiations to conclusion. The contract will be cancelled shortly, Vladimir Kozhin, the Assistant to the President for military and technical cooperation, told RIA Novosti.

“The talks have already ended. Everything is settled – both the date and the amount of penalty. I hope that the agreement concerning the cancellation of the contract will be signed in the nearest future. Then the sum that France will pay Russia will be officially announced,” Kozhin said.

It was reported earlier that Russia and France would settle on the amount of penalty before July 10. 

“The penalty amount is only predefined, as this decision has yet to be approved by the governments of the two countries,” a Russian government source told RIA Novosti.

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The Mistral contract worth €1.2 billion that was signed by the French DCNS/STX Company and Russian Defense Export Corporation Rosoboronexport in 2011 envisaged delivering two French helicopter carriers to Russia, with the first one to be delivered in 2014 and the second one in 2015.

However, France came under intense political pressure from the US and its closest European allies following a breakout in hostilities in Eastern Ukraine after a coup in Kiev in 2014, and Crimea’s subsequent decision to reunite with Russia.

US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland expressed concern over the deal in May after US lawmakers demanded pressure be put on France to stop the contract.

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“We have regularly and consistently expressed our concerns about this sale, even before we had the latest Russian actions, and we will continue to do so,” Nuland told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The following month US President Barack Obama said that it would be “preferable to press the pause button” on the deal.

Though many of the workers who had built the Mistrals protested the decision, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in November that France would not deliver the Mistrals to Russia, even if it cost the country €1.2 billion.

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