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Fate of Mistral Contract Still Unclear: French Military Source

According to a French Defense Ministry source, the Mistral contract with Russia has been suspended rather than annulled.

PARIS, October 29 (RIA Novosti) — The contract on the delivery of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia has not been canceled and its fate will be decided by the French political leadership, a French Defense Ministry source told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

“The Mistral contract is suspended, but not annulled,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Meanwhile, a source at the STX shipyards told RIA Novosti that the first Mistral ship was ready for delivery to the Russian navy.

“The ship is ready for delivery, all systems are operational,” the source said.

According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin's Wednesday statement, Rosoboronexport has already been invited to France to attend the handover of the first Mistral.

Russia and France signed a 1.2 billion euro ($1.5 billion at the current exchange rate) deal for two Mistral-class ships in June 2011. Both warships are being built at the STX shipyards in in the city of Saint-Nazaire.

The first vessel, the Vladivostok, is expected in Russia by the end of 2014. The second ship, the Sevastopol, is supposed to arrive in 2015.

The completion of the deal has been at risk since the West started implementing targeted economic sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis. French President Francois Hollande in October threatened to suspend the deliveries of the ships, citing alleged involvement of Russia in the Ukrainian conflict – a claim that Moscow repeatedly denied.

Earlier on October, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said Russia would sue France if it refuses to fulfill its contract obligations on the ships' delivery.

Moscow also assured that if anything went wrong, Russia would be able to build an analogue to the Mistral by itself.

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