France may 'never deliver' Mistral warships to Russia

5 December 2014 16:02
(QHA) -

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian indicated Friday that France may not deliver on its controversial contract with Russia for two Mistral helicopter carriers.

Le Drian blamed the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine for the impasse on French TV on Friday.

“We can’t imagine a delivery under the tense conditions we [currently] find ourselves in,” he told BFM TV. “We could never deliver; the Russians need to realise this.”

Last month, President François Hollande suspended the delivery of the first of the two ships “until further notice.” It was the second postponement

The contract has been subject to months of intense speculation, with Paris coming under intense pressure from its NATO allies to scrap the EUR1.2 billion ($1.58 billion) contract.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said back in July that fulfilling such an order would be "unthinkable" in Britain under the present circumstances.

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite said, "We see the Mistralisation of European policy. Values and security are undermined for the sake of business.”

The deal for the two helicopter carriers – the Vladivostok and Sebastopol – would have been the biggest arms transaction by a NATO country with Russia.

The Vladivostok was supposed to be the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers delivered to Russia according to the original deal signed in 2011.