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Update: Russia Willing to Wait Until End of Year On Mistral Deal

Russian Mistral Vladivostok under construction on April 22, 2014. U.S. Naval Institute Combat Fleets of the World Photo

Russian Mistral Vladivostok under construction on April 22, 2014. U.S. Naval Institute Combat Fleets of the World Photo

This post has been updated to include a quote from French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Russia is willing to wait until the end of the year for France to make good on the delivery of the first ship in two hull amphibious warship deal that has been held up since September, according to a Thursday report in Russian news service RIA Novosti.

Quoting an unnamed defense industry official, the news service said Russia was taking a wait and see approach with France’s suspension of the delivery of the two Mistral-class warships.

“Moscow is waiting for Paris to make a decision. We have not received any notices about the delay, suspension or cancellation of the contract,” the source told RIA Novosti on condition of anonymity.
“We are ready to take delivery of the ship and we will wait until the end of the year.”

The first ship — Vladivostok — was supposed to be delivered to Russia in October but the transfer was suspended in September by the administration of French President François Hollande.

However, since then ultimate fate of the shipbuilding deal has been an open question and France has done little clarify its conditions other than saying there should be a ceasefire in Ukraine.

“The conditions have not today been met for delivering the [first] Mistral,” Finance Minister Michel Sapin told France’s RTL radio in late October, following the release of an alleged letter from shipbuilder DCNS to the Russian agency Rosoboronexport giving a date for the transfer agency.

On Thursday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls repeated the Hollande administration position in a press conference in Belgrade.

“You know the French stand [on Mistral issue]. Today the conditions have not been met for their [warships] delivery to Russia,” Valls said.

As to what will happen if the deal doesn’t get completed by the end of the year is also unclear.

Russia’s contract with France includes a clause that would saddle the French with a $311 million penalty payment in the event of a cancelation of delivery.