After a long negotiations, Russia has decided to buy at least two of France's advanced Mistral-class amphibious warships in an unprecedented military deal between Moscow and the West, the two nations said Friday.
The multimillion-dollar sale, announced jointly by the Elysee Palace and the Kremlin, marks the first time in modern history that Russia has made such a major defense acquisition abroad, illuminating a fast-evolving relationship with former Cold War enemies, Washington Post reports.
French shipyard companies DCNS and STX would build the two Mistral-class warships along with Russia's state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation, known as OSK.
While the price was not disclosed, estimates put the price of one Mistral warship at between 400 million and 500 million euros ($525 million and $655 million).
One Mistral-class ship includes a 69-bed hospital and can carry up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft and a 750-strong landing force.
The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the contract would create 1,000 jobs in French shipyards over four years, and that the deal leaves open the construction of two more ships at a later date.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had previously said that the price of the warships and the possibility to build more on Russian soil would be key criteria in Moscow's decision, Deutsche Welle reports.