WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — In November 2014, France cancelled a $1.5 billion contract with Russia to deliver two Mistral aircraft carriers. The contract was terminated as a result of political pressure related to allegations of Moscow interference in the Ukraine conflict — claims delied by Russia.
“[Defense Secretary] Ashton Carter did not say he wanted to buy them earlier when I saw him,” Le Drian said on Monday.
Le Drian explained that the French government was encouraged to end the Mistral deal during an October 2014 visit to Washington.
Being asked if the Mistral ships could end up in US ports, Le Drian joked, “If we can agree on a price, why not?”
Le Drian described the decision to cancel the contract with Russia as “courageous” and a “strategic choice.”
“Now nobody is talking about the Mistral, but it is still costing us 1.2 billion euros [$1.3 billion] in the French economic situation which is difficult.”
A final agreement on French compensation to Russia for the termination of the Mistral contracts is still pending. Moscow has insisted on approximately $1.3 billion in compensation.
Le Drian visited Washington, DC on Monday where he met with his counterpart in the US Department of Defense.