France offers Russia ‘deal to ditch Mistrals’

Paris has allegedly offered Moscow the sweet sum of €785 million to scrap a contentious contract to supply two warships that was suspended due to the Ukraine crisis, a Russian newspaper reported Friday.

France offers Russia ‘deal to ditch Mistrals’
Photo: Frank Perry /AFP

Russian defence sources told the daily Kommersant that the documents are now “being studied” by the Russian government, defence ministry and other relevant parties who participated in the 2011 deal.

But the paper reported that Moscow was not happy with the offer from theFrench side, with the defence ministry claiming that Russian firms have now incurred €1.16 billion of costs associated with the ships.

The fate of the two Mistral helicopter carriers has plagued French-Russiaties for over a year, following the decision by Paris to put the €1.2 billion deal on ice as the West slapped sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea and alleged backing for separatist rebels in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month played down the importance ofthe ships and claimed that Russia ordered them mostly to help the French shipyard.

The Kremlin strongman, however, made clear Moscow would still like itsmoney back.

“We are not planning to demand any penalties or exorbitant fines but allexpenses should be returned,” he said.

While Kommersant reported France is proposing to return only the cash that was paid on the deal, Russia would like to have other expenses reimbursed, such as training 400 sailors for the crews and building port infrastructure in Vladivostok, where the first of the two ships was to be based.

“The option of returning the sum in the French offer categorically does not work for us,” a source told Kommersant.