Russia seeks broader military-technological cooperation with France

Military and military-technological cooperation between Moscow and Paris has been developing at a rapid pace, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told journalists on Thursday.

The Russian defense and foreign ministers met with their French counterparts in Paris on Oct. 31.

"As far as military-technological cooperation is concerned, we proposed expanding the range of our joint projects, including as part of the "future soldier" program, armored hardware and ammunition," Serdyukov said.

The sides did not sign any documents on military-technological cooperation at their meetings in the French capital, the minister said.

"We did not sign anything. It was the first time we had met with the new foreign and defense ministers of France in such a "two plus two" format," he said.

"It was interesting to learn whether Paris' policies would change under the new leader," Serdyukov said.

"On the whole, everything is quite positive. We discussed many issues. The opinion was expressed before our trip that the Syrian problem could become an obstacle. But I have to tell you that [France's] approach is very close to ours," the minister said.

"That is why our conversation was very friendly. At a meeting with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, we discussed the Russian Army reform in detail," he said.

"The defense minister of France told us that they were planning their reform in 2013. They want to study our experience. We agreed that we would be ready to accept a group of experts at any level," Serdyukov said.

"Serious consideration was given to military contacts. We have quite a busy schedule of different events," he said.

Serdyukov said on Wednesday that the Russian and French Defense Ministries' cooperation plan for 2012 includes 69 events, among them three joint naval maneuvers.

The minister denied rumors claiming that the two Mistral helicopter carriers would be delivered to the Russian Navy from France unfinished.

"Everything will be provided in accordance with the signed contracts," he said.

Asked when the construction of the third and fourth Mistral ships might start, he said that "we will hold consultations with the United Shipbuilding Corporation shortly to draft a work schedule and to agree on the structure of industrial cooperation."

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