• France's news in English

France insists 'still no date' for warship delivery

AFP/The Local · 12 Nov 2014, 16:42

Published: 12 Nov 2014 16:42 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday there was still no fixed date for the delivery of two Mistral warships to Russia.

"No delivery date can be fixed at this stage," Le Drian told the National Assembly lower house of parliament.

"The president of the Republic has said that a definitive decision will come at the right moment, taking into account all the responsibilities that come with this decision, which is not a simple decision."

The first of two mammoth Mistral-class assault ships was supposed to be delivered on Friday according to the original deal signed in 2011.

But amid this year's Ukraine crisis and the rapid decline of the West's relations with Russia, France has come under intense pressure from its allies, particularly the United States, and in September postponed the delivery.

France faces a difficult choice. Ditching the contract will cost it billions of dollars and threatens jobs.

But going ahead would incur NATO's wrath and heighten fears in Poland and the Baltic states, which are concerned that Russia's recent aggression may soon turn in their direction.

Hopes that a September ceasefire between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces might have provided a pretext for the deal to go ahead have been dashed by continued fighting and claims this week that Russia is sending more military hardware into Ukraine.

Story continues below…

On Wednesday a top NATO commander told the BBC that Russian troops and heavy artillery had entered eastern Ukraine in recent days.

Speaking earlier this week a spokesman for France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "We are worried by the information coming from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) about the situation in the east of Ukraine. France calls for the application of the Minsk peace agreement, notably in respect of the cease fire and  the control of the Ukraine-Russian border.”

The amphibious assault ships can carry 16 helicopters, four landing crafts, 13 tanks, 450 soldiers and a hospital.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French cheer police, reviving Charlie spirit
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available