MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – The defense capability of Russia and the Russian Navy will not suffer as a result of France’s decision to put the delivery of the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier on hold, Adm. Vladimir Komoedov, chairman of the defense committee of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said Wednesday.
“This will not undermine our combat readiness because this ‘tin can’ will require a lot of getting used to, and will most likely come without a control system; and we don’t really need a helicopter carrier vessel,” Adm. Komoedov told RIA Novosti.
In a statement released earlier on Wednesday, the administration of the French president said that the country’s government thinks that the delivery of the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia would not be appropriate under the present circumstances, referring to the situation in eastern Ukraine.
Adm. Komoedov noted that France was most likely pressured by the United States to suspend the delivery of the ship, which is actually not crucial for the Russian Navy, since Russia has all the necessary technology to build vessels not in any way inferior to their foreign equivalents, especially French ones.
Russia and France signed a $1.6 billion deal for two Mistral-class ships, the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol, in June 2011. The vessels are expected to be deployed by Russia’s Pacific Fleet. They are both capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 70 armored vehicles and 450 soldiers.
The Vladivostok was expected in Russia at the end of this year, while the Sevastopol was due to be completed in 2015.
The completion of the deal has been at risk since Western countries imposed sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the Ukrainian crisis and has called for an immediate end to Kiev’s “punitive operation” in eastern Ukraine.