MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - France will sell Russia a warship it wants to buy if the two countries reach a political agreement, the French foreign minister said on Thursday.
Russia confirmed in mid-September that it was in talks with France to buy a Mistral-class helicopter carrier.
"Negotiations on the purchase of the Mistral carrier are going on between our countries. It is a great ship. However, there is political procedure that needs to be followed. If a political accord is reached, I believe you will be able to buy this ship," Bernard Kouchner said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio.
He did not elaborate on what kind of political accord or agreement was involved.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said on September 19 that in buying the ship Russia was seeking technology to boost its shipbuilding industry.
He added that Russian shipbuilders strongly oppose the deal and that the government had yet to make a decision on whether Russia needs to build costly aircraft carriers.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.
The ship could cost between 300 and 400 million euros ($430-580 million).
Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said in August that Russia had plans to buy three or four ships of the same class to be jointly built in Russia.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).