THE INTERNATIONAL NEW YORK TIMES
Maria de la Baumanov
Novvember 25, 2014
PARIS – France will postpone handing over a sophisticated French-built warship to the Russian Navy “until further notice,” President Fran?ois Hollande said on Tuesday.
“The current situation in eastern Ukraine still does not permit the delivery of the first Mistral-class amphibious assault ship,” Mr. Hollande said in a statement.
The Mistral-class ships are designed to deliver a force of several hundred troops to a battlefield by sea, along with the equipment and support they would need, including tanks and helicopters.
France agreed in 2011 to build and sell two of the ships to Russia and train Russian sailors to operate them, in a deal worth $1.6 billion.
But the deal became a source of growing concern this year, especially in Germany and the United States, after Russia seized and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in March and supported the pro-Russian separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Western nations responded by imposing sanctions on Russia, including blocks on any new arms deals.
The first of the two ships was initially scheduled to be handed over to Russia in October, but Mr. Hollande announced in September that the conditions for delivering it had not been met, despite talks toward a cease-fire in Ukraine.
The French finance minister, Michel Sapin, told RTL radio that the necessary conditions were a return to normalcy in Ukraine and “that Russia plays a positive role there.”