France Caught in “Crossfire” over Delivery of Mistrals to Russia

A considerable load has been put on France due to its intention to continue with the construction and sale of Mistral-class ships to Russia.

France said that the delivery of two warships to the Russian Navy will not be affected by the current EU sanctions imposed on Russia amid the Ukrainian crisis. The contract is facing fierce opposition, especially from the U.S. and NATO, as tensions over the political situation in Ukraine continue to rise.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stood his ground in Washington on Tuesday saying that the contract which had already been signed must be honoured, since there is no legal loophole to avoid honouring it. What is more, Russia has already paid out more than half of the agreed $1.2 billion to France, writes AFP.

Even though the U.S. has not officially asked France to renounce the contract, numerous concerns have been raised. Nevertheless, according to Fabius, the final decision on the contract will be made in October.

A potential scenario that could lead to freezing the sale would require imposing of fiercer sanctions against Russia. This option, however, is not to be ruled out since the international community has warned Russia with graver sanctions if it tries to disrupt elections in Ukraine, scheduled for May 25th.

The deal for the two ships for the Russian Navy was announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 24 December 2010, and signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and French Defence Minister Alain Juppé on 25th of January 2011. The Mistral class is a class of three amphibious assault ships, also known as helicopter carriers.

Naval Today Staff, May 21, 2014; Image: Wikimedia

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