Russia says France Due to Hand Over First Warship Nov. 14

Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

Russia said Wednesday that France is still due to complete the controversial handover of a warship next month, despite pressure for the deal to be scrapped over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

The Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said country's state-run arms dealer had been invited to attend a ceremony on November 14 to deliver the first of two Mistral helicopter carrier, reported Russian news agencies.

"From the point of view of the technical realization of the contract, everything is going to plan," Rogozin said.

"As for the political decision, we think that France has to defend its reputation as a reliable partner," he added.

However, the French warship manufacturer denied that a date had been set.

A spokesman for the naval defense group said it was waiting for government permission to export the first of two helicopter carriers, adding: "No delivery date can therefore be confirmed at this stage.”

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, said Tuesday that the decision on whether to deliver the state-of-the-art warship in Moscow would be made in November.

Paris last month said it was postponing the decision to deliver the first of two Mistral class advanced helicopter assault ships to Russia until November after fierce criticism from its allies given the crisis in Ukraine.

President Francois Hollande's office said on September 4 that the conditions for France to deliver the warship were "not to date in place,” pointing to Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Hollande reiterated earlier this month that a ceasefire reached between Kiev, Moscow and pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine would have to be “completely respected” for Paris to deliver the ship, which has already undergone sea tests.

Paris agreed in 2011 to build and sell the two assault ships to Russia, with the first originally scheduled for delivery in October or November and the second in 2015.

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