Kremlin Threatens to Sue France Over Possible Mistral Contract Breach
SOCHI, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will sue France if Paris refuses to honor a contract on construction of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers for the Russian Navy, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said Thursday.
"We will file a lawsuit and demand compensation [if the contract is not fulfilled], as it's commonly done in a civilized world," Ivanov told reporters.
"It's up to Paris to decide whether to honor thecontract or not," he said.
"We share long-running history of Russian-French relations, and we would not want to see these relations being sacrificed for the sake of fleeting [political] trends, Ivanov added.
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. The first carrier, 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.
In September, French President Francois Hollande threatened to suspend the ships' delivery over Russia's alleged involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, which Moscow has repeatedly denied.
Hollande later stated he would make a decision on the ships' delivery in late October. The French president said that the delivery of the ships would be dependent on two conditions: an observed ceasefire in Ukraine and a political settlement of the conflict.
On September 30, deputy director general at Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport Igor Sevastyanov said Russia and France could sign the act on delivering the first Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia in late October or early November.