Updated 1:58 p.m. Moscow Time
MOSCOW, September 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russia expects France to deliver Mistral-class amphibious assault ships on schedule, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said in an interview with RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
“Everything goes according to schedule,” the Russian diplomat said.
The 1.2-billion-euro ($1.7 billion at the current exchange rate) contract to supply the Mistral-class ships between the French ship-building company DCNS and Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport was signed in June 2011. The first carrier, the Vladivostok, is to be operated by the Russian Navy in 2014, while the second ship, the Sevastopol, will arrive in 2015.
Earlier in September, French President Francois Hollande threatened to suspend the delivery of the helicopter carriers, citing alleged involvement of Russia in the Ukrainian crisis as the reason. However, a French diplomatic source later told RIA Novosti that the delivery had not been officially put off and that the French president was simply outlining his political stance.
Hollande later stated he would make the decision in late October. The president added that the two conditions for the delivery of the ships are an observed ceasefire in Ukraine and a political settlement of the conflict.
Earlier on Tuesday, Igor Sevastyanov, a deputy director general of Rosoboronexport, announced that Russia and France may sign an act on transferring first French-built Mistral class amphibious assault ship to Russia in late October or early November.