Despite hesitation, France has decided to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. This was announced by senior representative of STX shipbuilding company.
"The transfer of the first Mistral helicopter carrier is a matter of several days or weeks," RIA Novosti said with reference to the source.
Earlier, France threatened to suspend the delivery of helicopter carriers to Russia on account of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Afterwards, a spokesperson for Elysee Palace said that the delivery of the ship had not been suspended from a legal point of view. French President Francois Hollande outlined his political position, according to which he would not approve the delivery of the vessel in November, if the situation in Ukraine did not improve.
The contract worth 1.2 billion euros for the construction of two French helicopter carriers of Mistral type for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011. The first vessel, the Vladivostok, is to go into service of the Russian Navy in 2014; the second one, the Sevastopol, - in 2015.
Earlier, deputy commander of the Russian Navy, Rear Admiral Viktor Bursuk, said that the military shipbuilding program stipulated for the construction of helicopter carriers at Russian companies. The agreement for the purchase of the French vessels was only one of the contracts within the scope of defense cooperation.
In turn, the head of the Russian presidential administration Sergei Ivanov said that Russia would sue France and require reimbursement of penalties under the contract, should France fail to deliver the ordered vessels to Russia.
"We will go to court seeking a compensation under the contract, as it is usually the case in the civilized world. It is not up to Moscow to decide, whether the contract is going to be executed. We have long-standing Russian-French relations, and we would not like these long-term mutual interests to be sacrificed to considerations of expediency," RIA Novosti quoted Ivanov as saying.
Universal helicopter carrier Mistral with the displacement of 21,000 tons and maximum hull length of 210 meters is capable of developing the speed of over 18 knots. The cruising range of the ship is up to 20 thousand miles. The crew makes up 160 people; the vessel can take on board 450 people additionally. The air group includes 16 helicopters, six of which can be based on the take-off deck. The cargo deck of the ship can accept more than 40 tanks or 70 vehicles. Mistral ships are built at STX shipyard in the French town of Saint-Nazaire.
Paris acts like Washington's poodle when it comes to the question of Mistral ships for Russia, the leader of the right-wing National Front, Marine Le Pen said. Le Pen encourages the French authorities to execute the contract.
"France's word is at stake. However, we know perfectly well that the execution of the contract was suspended on the orders from the US President," Le Pen said.
In her opinion, no country would trust the word of France, if Paris is ready to interrupt the execution of a large contract at the behest of Washington. "We are not US poodles. We must once again become a free and sovereign nation," said the leader of the National Front in France.