NOVO OGARYOVO, Moscow Region, July 30 (RIA Novosti) — Russia has the capability to build Mistral-class helicopter carriers on its own if France breaches the existing contract and fails to prove it is a reliable partner, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin Wednesday.
“The French must prove they are serious partners and reliable contractors," Rogozin said after a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Cabinet members. “If they fail to do so, we will build the [Mistral] ships on our own. We are finally capable to do it," Rogozin, who oversees Russia’s defense sector, said.
Russia and France signed a $1.6 billion deal for two Mistral-class helicopter carriers in June 2011.
Under the contract, the first ship, the Vladivostok, is to be delivered to Russia by the end of the year, while the second, the Sevastopol, is due in 2015.
The United States is pressuring France to renege on the deal in light of Russia’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. US State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the delivery of Mistral warships to Russia would be “completely inappropriate” following the recent events in Ukraine.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also criticized Paris for its plan to sell Mistral ships to Russia and called the deal “unthinkable."
At the same time, Paris said it is still committed to the deal.
“According to international laws, a signed and prepaid contract has to be fulfilled,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said last week.
The vessels are capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 70 armored vehicles and 450 soldiers each, and are expected to be deployed with Russia’s Pacific Fleet.
Earlier this week, the US imposed new sanctions against Russia targeting three banks and United Shipbuilding Corporation, which is involved in the Mistral deal.