Putin: We only ordered warships to help France

Putin: We only ordered warships to help France
A man drinks tea in his flat as he watches a TV broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual televised phone-in with the nation. Photo: AFP
Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that France's refusal to deliver two Mistral-class warships to Moscow would not affect its defence capabilities, adding Russia ordered the ships to help create French jobs.

"Of course not delivering the ships according to a valid contract is a bad sign, but from the point of view of supporting our defence capabilities, to tell you frankly, this has no importance."

Putin said the main reason Moscow signed the €1.2 billion euro deal for the two massive helicopter carriers in 2011 was to show goodwill and give jobs to France's Saint-Nazare shipyard on the Atlantic.

"We signed these contracts at the time primarily to support our partners and to give work to their shipyard, though in principle were planning to use (the warships) in the far east," Putin said in the course of his annual phone-in session with the nation.

France was due to deliver the first warship last year but the deal was put on ice after Russia's annexation of Crimea and the resultant sanctions against Moscow by the European Union.

"For us it is not critical," he said, though adding he expects France to return the money.

"I am counting on France… to return our money. We are not planning to demand any penalties or exorbitant fines, but all expenses should be returned," he said.

"Of course this shows that the reliability of our partners… is in question, and we will take that into account in future cooperation."