PARIS, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – The delivery of first Mistral-class helicopter carrier, built for Russia under the 2011 contract, has not been put off yet, as the statement made earlier on Wednesday reflected personal position of President Francois Hollande, a French diplomatic source said Wednesday.
“From the legal standpoint, nothing has changed; the delivery is due November 1. It is a matter of president’s political stance. The head of state said that in the current circumstances, as of today - and if these circumstances do not change – he would not approve delivery of the Mistral,” the source said.
Hollande’s position remains the same, according to the diplomatic source. Russia has to undertake the steps essential to reach a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine to receive the Mistral warships on time.
“The final decision will be made in October following a number of procedures,” the diplomatic source added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the office of President Francois Hollande released a statement, saying that the head of the country concluded that the conditions, under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place.
Russia and France signed a $1.6 billion deal for two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. The first of these, the Vladivostok, was expected in Russia at the end of this year, with the second, the Sevastopol, due to be completed in 2015.
The completion of the deal was at risk after Western countries imposed sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.
The Mistral 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.