France puts warship delivery to Russia on hold
Updated: 2014-09-04 10:10
MOSCOW - Russia said Wednesday that France's decision to put the delivery of one Mistral warship to Moscow on hold would not be a tragedy.
"Even though this is unpleasant news of course and it strains relations with our French partners, the termination of the contract will not be a tragedy for us in terms of rearmament," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov as saying.
Russia will act in strict compliance with international law and the existing contract with France, he added.
Earlier in the day, French President Francois Hollande's office said in a statement that "despite the prospect of a ceasefire (in eastern Ukraine) which still remains to be confirmed and implemented, the conditions for France to deliver the first warship are not to date in place."
The statement came on the eve of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Wales, where leaders will discuss pressing issues concerning situations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Moscow and Paris signed a $1.6 billion contract in 2011, under which France should deliver the first Mistral-class helicopter assault warship to Moscow in October or November this year, and the second one in 2015.
In June, Hollande said the first warship was almost finished and should be delivered as planned, while the United States argued that the delivery would be "completely inappropriate" due to Moscow's military involvement into the Ukraine crisis.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who put forth a seven-point plan on Wednesday aimed at settling the ongoing Ukraine crisis, said earlier that Moscow would not further develop military-technical relations with Paris should the latter fails to fulfill the contract.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of the defense sector, has also said the country could build Mistral-type warships on its own.