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Russia not to demand penalties from France for non-delivery of Mistral ships -- Putin

Russia will not demand penalties from France for its refusal to deliver Mistral-class helicopter carriers but the money and expenses incurred should be returned, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at an annual Q&A conference on Thursday.

"I proceed from the fact that the incumbent leadership of France and the French are decent people and they will return the money to us. We do not intend to demand any forfeits or exorbitant penalties but it is necessary that all the expenses that we incurred should be returned," Putin said.

France's refusal to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers has not affected Russia's defense capability in any way, Putin said.

"We concluded these contracts some time ago primarily to support our partners and keep the utilization capacities of their shipyards loaded," the Russian president said.

France's refusal to deliver Mistral-class helicopter carriers makes Russia think about the reliability of partners from the NATO bloc, "which lose a part of their sovereignty," he said.

"This reliability is questioned and we, of course, will take this into account in the course of further cooperation and military and technical interaction," the Russian president said.

In reply to the presenter's remark that Russia's refusal to demand penalties would allow France to 'relax,' Putin said: "Well, we'll live with it."

Russia-France Mistral contract

The 1.12 billion contract for the construction of two Mistral-type helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011.

Under the contract, Russia was expected to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in the autumn of 2014. However, Paris suspended the ship's handover to Russia at the very last moment over Moscow's stance on developments in neighboring Ukraine.

It was planned that the second ship dubbed Sevastopol would be handed over to Russia in the second half of 2015. But the deal was suspended like in the case with the first Mistral ship.

The Mistral-type helicopter carriers have a displacement of 21 tons, the maximum body length of 210 meters, the speed of 18 knots and the range of up to 20,000 miles.

The helicopter carrier can accommodate 450 people in addition to its crew of 180. It carries 16 helicopters, of which six can be simultaneously stored on the flight-deck.

A compartment in the cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motorized vehicles. Mistral landing helicopter carriers are capable of performing four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, and act as a command post and a floating hospital.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 16Apr15]

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