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Moscow believes problem of Mistral ships fully settled, says Kremlin

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Francois Hollande of France have taken a joint decision to sever the agreement on construction and supplies to the Russian Navy of two amphibious helicopter carriers of the Mistral class that was signed in June 2011, the Kremlin press service said.

"Moscow believes that the problem of the Mistral ships has been fully settled," it said in a report.

"The President of the Russian Federation and the President of the French Republic have taken a joint decision to sever the contract for construction and supplies of two amphibious helicopter carriers of the Mistral class signed in June 2011," the press service said.

"In the course of expert negotiations that were held in the friendly key typical of Russian-French relations, the sides managed to reach a mutually acceptable agreement on reimbursement of the monies the Russian government had paid under the contract, as well as on a return of the equipment and materiel supplied by Russian manufacturers," the report said.

"France has remitted the above-said monies and it will reacquire the right of ownership over the ships and will be able to dispose of them after the return of equipment," the press service said.

The Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed to TASS Putin and Hollande had attained agreement on the Mistrals.

"Yes," he said when a reporter asked him if the two Presidents had indeed come to terms of the problem of the helicopter carriers.

Russia and France signed a contract for construction of two Mistral ships for the Russian Navy in June 2011. The first ship that was christened The Vladivostok was made waterborne in October 2013 and its handover to the Russian Navy was scheduled for November 2014 but Paris took an eleventh-hour decision to suspend the transition of the helicopter carriers under the pretext of the situation in Ukraine.

The second ship of the Mistral class, The Sevastopol, was to be turned over to Russia in the first half of 2015.

On July 25, a source in the Russian defence manufacturing sector told TASS that the Russian authorities had begun to gather a group of specialists who would go to France to dismantle equipment installed on the Mistrals.

"We've received a task to do this and we're gathering a group of experts now who'll go to France to dismantle the telecommunications and control equipment supplied by Russian manufacturers and installed on the Mistral (The Vladisvostok)," the source said.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 05Aug15]

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