Hollande: Delivery of second Mistral warship depends on Russia’s ‘attitude’

François Hollande. Brussels, June 2013.

A decision on whether to deliver a second Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia will depend on Moscow's attitude over the Ukraine crisis, French President François Hollande said yesterday (21 July).

Speaking during a dinner with the presidential press corps, Hollande said that a first warship was nearly finished and would be delivered as planned in October, despite strong opposition from France's allies.

"For the time being, a level of sanctions has not been decided on that would prevent this delivery," Hollande said.

"Does that mean that the rest of the contract - the second Mistral - can be carried through? That depends on Russia's attitude," Hollande added.

For the second delivery to be cancelled, EU sanctions would have to be decided at the level of heads of state and government, a French government official said.

EU foreign ministers might agree to ratchet up sanctions on Russia when they meet today (22 July), though targeting deliveries of defence equipment was not planned, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

>> Read: EU ministers seed up Russia sanctions

"For now, France wants the sanctions to be financial, targeted and quick," a presidential aide said separately.

Diplomats in Brussels said earlier that EU foreign ministers were unlikely to punish Russia over last week's downing of an airliner over Ukraine beyond speeding up the imposition of individual sanctions that had already been agreed upon.

France has come under intense pressure from allies over the sale of the warships with London and Washington renewing their opposition on Monday.

Urging EU countries to stop selling defence equipment to Russia, British Prime Minister David Cameron said going ahead with the warship contract would be unthinkable in Britain.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said earlier yesterday that he doubted France would cancel the contract, which he said would be worse for France than for Russia.

The United States opposes France's plan to sell Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia, a senior US administration official told reporters yesterday, echoing concerns expressed on the same day by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

On Monday, Cameron said the sale would be "unthinkable" in Britain after a passenger jet was shot down last week from eastern Ukraine.

Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, Ukraine Ambassador to the EU, told Bloomberg TV yesterday that France should cancel the Mistral contract. He has previously warned that the Mistral contract could be challenged by EU courts.

>> Read: Ukrainian ambassador: French Mistral contract violates EU rules

A senior Russian official said yesterday he doubted France would cancel its sale of warships to Russia.

"This is billions of euros [...] the French are very pragmatic. I doubt it [that the deal will be cancelled]," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters. "Suspension of the deal would be [much] less damaging for Russia than for France." 



Joe Thorpe's picture

Why doesn't he just send the rebels in Ukraine a few of his old stock of exocets to shoot down more airliners? It's all good exports after all. If he was around 70 years ago he would have been selling arms to Adolf as he drove up the Champs Elysees

an european's picture

Better not to send the Pro Russian terrorists in Ukraine because they sot down all targets without reconnaissance...
If it comes to me then I would immediately reject all military assets delivering to Russia !

an european's picture

Have completely to agree with your last sentence even if it's a little bit camouflaged but more correct couldn't be !

Julius's picture

It's always the same old story with England. You should be grateful to the French, they helped you in this war. Also, did you know that your country bought and used these missiles until 2002? For once, stop crying (and leave the EU).

Jay's picture

As of this past Wednesday, US media had reported England was still issuing export licenses for military arms to Russia and then something about it being an embarrassment for Cameron.

Southron's picture

Give the Mistral to the EU Federal Navy!

Oh wait..

banitome's picture

France already surrendered to russia. I feel sorry for europe.

Stefonovich's picture

Vlad "the Assailer" is whipping up hell like only the devil can, and France wants to give him a new weapon(s)? Europe can stand to grow bigger teeth.

Lonetiger7's picture

Here's the thing the French signed a CONTRACT with Russia which means Russia can FORCE France to abide by the contract to sell to Russia the helicopters and any other military equipment agreed upon in said contract. There's this term called breach of contract of which can incur legal penalties for failure to abide by the contract legally and previously signed regardless of a countries failure to take particular moral actions. This is fact. Personally do I agree with the contract for the sale? No, I don't because the equipment can be resold to the rebels and or be used against France itself in a war. My personal opinion however cannot negate legal fact and precedent wherein provided by the contractual signing whether it be a contract between governments or a contract between individual and government or a contract between two people of which the contract incurs a legal obligation to be fulfilled regardless of a persons or governments feelings. Basically France is legally bound by contract which it is obligated to fulfill with Russia otherwise penalties for failure to do so can be incurred and Russia can FORCE France to fulfill the obligations left by the contract. France should have thought through what government they were making a deal with.

Joe Thorpe's picture

Contracts are signed all the time & broken/terminated if someone brings the situation into disrepute & no one has a leg to stand on. Invading a sovereign nations territory would be pretty high up on the table of naughty lists don't you think? The contract should be terminated & they should charge Russia for loss of profits in the Hague.

Jay's picture

If invading a sovereign nations territory is high up on the table of naughty lists how high up does supporting a violent coup d'état against a democratically elected government rank?

The problem with most Europeans and Americans is they are swallowing the "information war" (think WMD) reports hook, line, and sinker. The rush to judgement is propelling us toward a major war with Russia and Europe is at it's lowest defensive point since the Berlin wall fell.

Please take a minute to read an investigative non biased report of what this Ukraine thing is all about.


A Londoner's picture

Rather than focusing on short-term issues I think that we have to accept the unpleasant fact that Russia is a long term problem for the EU countries. It seems to have returned to its long term policy of favouring strong leaders who can protect the dignity of Russia.
Moreover, the Russian state has a history of being willing to use force to achieve its ends.

I find it humiliating that the agents of the Russian state can murder a defector in London and the UK can nothing about it. But that is what seems to have happened. We have to plan jointly to consider how we can protect ourselves against future Russian aggression.

Jay's picture

Did you get the fuzzi's and feel real cozy when the USSR was right on your front door steps and in your living rooms? I suspect not, yet that is exactly what NATO is doing to Russia today. You have only yourselves to blame for Russia's defensive aggression.

an european's picture

The russians have the use force to achieve in their blood anchored ..

protect ourselves against future Russian aggression:

Russian's people have to elect a different kind of President !
First the European Union should get it's energy itself and be be energy-independent (It can) !
The Eurpopean Union has to pool an federal army or an pan-european army and not only an little EUBG counterstrike army !
Rise the production on all military assets and be a little bit less dependent on Nato !
Fact is taht only a strong Europe with an unificated level of Army can defend itself adequately !

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