Firm truce in Ukraine needed for Mistral delivery to Russia – France

France will hand over to Russia two Mistral-class helicopter carriers only when there is a lasting peace in Ukraine,  French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday.

“This [Mistral delivery] is not possible in view of the conflict, the difficulties encountered in Ukraine. There needs to be in this part of Europe… a respected ceasefire and a political roadmap,” Le Drian told Europe-1 radio station.

According to Le Drian, only if these conditions are met will the French president consider the question of whether to finally deliver the Mistral warships to Russia.

“I see that efforts in this direction are being taken, but so far they cannot be confirmed with facts, [and] we cannot take a decision,” Le Drian said.

The contract for the building of the two Mistral helicopter carriers was signed between the French company DCNS and Russian state arms company Rosoboronexport in 2011. It was planned that the first ship would enter service in the Russian Navy in 2014.

Currently, the two Mistral helicopter carrier assault ships, named the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol, are docked in the port of Saint-Nazaire. The Vladivostok is ready for delivery, while work is still continuing on the Sevastopol.

Four hundred Russian sailors had previously been in Saint-Nazaire for six months training to man the Vladivostok. However, in mid-December it was decided to bring them back to Russia before the New Year., via Unian

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