Russia is ready to wait for the delivery of the first French Mistral helicopter carrier till the end of November. If France does not meet obligations under the contract, Moscow will present a significant financial claim, RIA Novosti reports with reference to a high-ranking source in Moscow.
"We get ready for different variants. We will wait till the end of the month and then we will bring serious claims," the agency's source said. He noted that experts currently analyze amounts of possible losses, should France fail to execute the contract accordingly. "This amount will not be a secret," assured the source.
At the same time, a military and diplomatic source told Interfax that Russia may bring penalties against France for non-delivery of Mistral vessels as early as in February 2015. "Under the terms of the contract, France has the right to prolong the term of the delivery of the ship to the customer for three months. During this period, Russia can not present any penalties to French shipbuilders," he explained.
"There is every reason to believe that in this period of time, France will deliver the helicopter carrier to the Russian Navy." "If it does not do it, then, in addition to aggravated social situation at French shipyards, Paris will have another problem: what to do with this ship. Selling it to a third country is unlikely, as the vessel has been adapted to requirements of the Russian Navy," the source added.
In pictures: First Mistral ready for Russia
Originally, it was believed that the first Mistral class amphibious assault ship - the "Vladivostok" as it will be called in Russia - will be delivered to the Navy of the Russian Federation on Friday, November 14th. In late October, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that the Russian side received an official invitation to the ceremony for the transfer of the "Vladivostok" in the French town of Saint-Nazaire.
However, Interfax later reported with reference to a source in the field of military-technical cooperation that the scheduled ceremony would most likely be postponed. Since France has not confirmed the date for the transfer, Moscow decided not to send a Russian delegation to Saint-Nazaire.
On Wednesday, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Paris had not decided the date for the delivery of Mistral. At the same time, the head of the military department assured that it would happen "in the nearest future." The delay was explained with the absence of the export permit for DCNS Shipbuilding Corporation.
French media reported that DCNS allegedly sent invitations for the ceremony of the ship due to a blunder made by project leader for the delivery of Mistral. The person lost their job in the end. However, reporters doubted that a DCNS employee could do it without the approval from the authorities.
Against the background of ongoing confrontation between Russia and the West because of the Ukrainian crisis, the issue of the transfer of Mistral vessels has caused serious disagreements between the governments of France and the United States. On the one hand, Paris does not want to incur losses in connection with non-execution of the contract with the Russian Federation. On the other hand, the French try not to ruin relations with Washington. The United States has repeatedly urged France not to deliver the vessel to Russia, because, in Washington's view, Russia shows aggressive behavior in the light of the conflict in the Ukraine and threatens the security of other countries.
The thorny issue of Mistral ships is likely to be raised at a meeting of presidents of Russia and France, Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande, during the G20 summit in Brisbane, to be held on November 15-16, according to L'Express. If France decides to transfer the Mistral to Russia, the move may cause panic in Poland and the Baltic countries. Should Paris refuse, it will put France in a dangerous situation of a country that does not fulfill contractual obligations. Such a move may cost Paris a lot in the future.
In 2011, French company DCNS and Russia's defense export giant Rosoboronexport signed a contract worth 1.2 billion euros for the delivery of two Mistral helicopter carriers. The first ship, "Vladivostok," is go into service of the Russian Navy in 2014. The second ship, "Sevastopol," is to be delivered to Moscow in 2015.