Hollande and Putin to discuss Mistral deal

France's Mistral-class amphibious assault vessel. [Reuters]

French President François Hollande said yesterday (19 April) he was looking for a “way out of the crisis” with Russia over the suspended delivery of Mistral helicopter carriers purchased by Moscow.

Speaking on Canal Plus television, Hollande said he would discuss the halted €1.2 billion contract with Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two leaders meet in Armenia on Friday, at the commemorations of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

“This is still the subject of discussions,” the French head of state said. “We are in the process of negotiating. We must find a way out of the crisis.”

France suspended delivery of the warships last year amid tightening international sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

Initially Hollande said that the first Mistral ship which was commissioned before the EU sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis would be delivered as planned. But under international pressure France has suspended the delivery of the first ship as well.

The United States opposes France’s plan to sell Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia and British Prime Minister David Cameron said the sale would be “unthinkable” after the downing of MH17 in eastern Ukraine.

Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, Ukraine Ambassador to the EU, has warned that the Mistral contract could be challenged by EU courts.

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

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