France has suspended the delivery of the first of two Mistral navy assault ships to Russia, saying the move was in response to Moscow’s recent actions in Ukraine.
President Francois Hollande’s office said Wednesday’s remarks by the Russian and Ukrainian leaders about a possible ceasefire were not enough to allow France to give it the go-ahead.
“The president of the republic has concluded that despite the prospect of ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place,” it said in a statement.
Russia’s deputy defense minister Yury Borisov said the French decision would not hold back Moscow’s plans to reform its armed forces.
The two helicopter carriers, worth about US$1.6 billion, were the most significant Western arms sale to Russia and its postponement marks a very visible rebuff to Moscow, BBC News said.
The ships, which can carry up to 16 heavy helicopters, land troops and armored vehicles, would significantly improve Russia’s amphibious capability.
France had until now resisted pressure to halt the delivery, saying it had to respect an existing contract, the report said.
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