MOSCOW, September 4 (RIA Novosti) - Suspension of the Russian-French contract to deliver Mistral helicopter carriers may hit the French economy hard, Jacques Sapir, director of studies at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
“Who is going to trust what France says now? If the contract is not implemented, we can lose millions of euros that Russia has paid and that we are to pay in return, to say nothing of the punitive sanctions. [French President] Francois Hollande’s ill-considered steps deliver a heavy blow on the French industry. Shipbuilding workers will duly appreciate it,” Sapir told RIA Novosti.
In Sapir’s opinion, underlying the president’s statement is his search of political benefits ahead of the NATO summit that will start on Thursday.
“This decision is incompetent, as it should have been taken more than two months ago if it were for gaining the good graces from NATO and the USA. It is incompetent, as it may only evoke anger of Russia that sees the change in the French stance even in the moment when we have started talking on possible ceasefire in Ukraine, at last,” Sapir said.
The president’s intention is doomed to failure in every respect, the expert said. “If he [Hollande] thinks that Russia and the US will fall for it, he is mistaken.”
Hollande’s administration issued a statement on Wednesday announcing the suspension of the delivery of the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia due to events in eastern Ukraine, despite the contract still legally in force.
The two ships were commissioned by Russia in 2011 at a cost of $1.6 billion. The first of these, the Vladivostok, was due to come into service at the end of this year, with the second, the Sevastopol, due to be completed in 2015. The suspension will be next reviewed before November.